Ashes Panel #003 – Starc Ballanced Poetry, Give Johnny A Bell

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We have four entries in, so as usual, I will stick this up. I am awaiting Dennis Does Cricket, who volunteered, but he’s obviously incredibly busy with his site and has covered some of the ground already.

So, without further ado, let me introduce our esteemed panel. First up is Rooto, who is a regular here with a base in the South of France. Then we have Sean B, another loyal follower on here and on Twitter. We have our own Bogfather, who has responded in his own inimitable way, and finally, the blogger of all things West Indian, David Oram (AKA Col Blimp and Roland Butcher’s Hook). A great panel to match the two already, and they were put the usual five questions.

1. Australia appear to have lost Ryan Harris for the first two tests at least, and Mitchell Johnson thus far isn’t pulling up any trees? Has your confidence in England risen or fallen with this news?
Rooto – My confidence in England couldn’t fall, it could only rise. It’s perhaps important to state that first up, as it colours all that follows! This news only provokes the smallest, slightest quiver on the needle, however. Johnson could get a hot streak tomorrow and ride it till September. Now that Harris officially isn’t playing, it only renders concrete what was already being rumoured – that he wasn’t going to be picked anyway, because they have enough bowlers faster, fitter and (in Hazlewood) as tight as he. The reason we all like Ryan-o is that he isn’t quite so dangerously Aussie. Harris was the connoisseur’s fast bowler, or at least that’s what observers like Mike Selvey would have us believe. That’s great, and I don’t wish to speak ill of the retired, but I think the Aussie team runs on bloodlust rather than fine appreciation. The Aussies will play 2, maybe 3 Mitches and they’ll be full of confidence whoever puts on the annoyingly ubiquitous cap.
Sean B – Not really, i still think they have a very strong fast bowling unit in Hazelwood, Starc and Johnson, although i think Gary Ballance will be mightily relieved that Harris is not playing, his lack of foot movement would have made him a sitting duck for Harris to get him LBW. I watched the Aussies in the West Indies and Starc was the real danger man, he can swing it both ways at pace and is particularly strong  at bowling to left handers, so it will be a real test for our top 3 and could largely decide who wins the series.
David O – Risen enormously! Luck plays a huge part in sport. Of course we want to compete with and beat the best – but if they are hors de combat, well then so be it! It’s no use crying over spilt milk, but nothing wrong at grinning like a Cheshire Cat when Glenn McGrath trips over a cricket ball. Harris was a fine cricketer – but his moment in time has now passed. We shall see whether the same is the case with Mitchell Johnson. Is he past his sell by date? Or is this his majestic swansong? Much has been made of the age of the Aussies. Are they over the hill? Maybe. It is fine line between players passing their peak, and being ‘past it’. Similarly teams. Recently I made this comparison of the age factors which defined England’s two recent Ashes whitewashes:

The 2006/07 series was characterised by a bunch of old blokes (Australia) who knew they had ‘one last job’ in them and, after the 2005 Ashes result, were determined to prove a point.
The 2013/14 series was characterised by a bunch of old blokes (England) who hoped they had ‘one last job’ in them, and after the 2013 Ashes result, were self-deluded enough to think they had nothing left to prove.
Australia are great on paper. As an Englishman, I hope they crumple and fold.
England are looking fresher. And in years to come we may look back as this being the defining breakthrough series for players who have promise, and may realise it.
The Bogfather: The formatting might go astray here….
Oh, No Harris
To embarrass

Our batsmen..

With Mitch J

On the spray

We’ll relax then…?

Yet the future is still Starc

As Hazelwood hits the mark

And Siddle can still riddle them…

Yet, I still expect

Each Mitch to click and collect

The openers and three

Bell too, intimidatingly quickly

Feeding on weaknesses known

As runs dry up amid ‘outside’ groans

Leaving 4 through to 8

To get us out of a state

Which won’t always occur

So forgive me if I demur

From taking the positives…


2. England have chosen two spinners in the squad. Is it for show, or would they ever contemplate playing two in the same team?
Rooto – They’ll only play Rashid if the backroom staff have burnt the DVD of Cardiff 2009. It’s amazing that memories of that match have brought us this far, but so few writers (BTL is different) remember how ineffectual Monty and Swann were on that pitch. This pitch could, of course, be different. In which case why are the press talking about 2009? Either it’s as slow and low as before, and 2 spinners won’t help, or it’ll behave differently, in which case the parallels are unhelpful. On a different note, Bayliss may have ideas about Rashid’s greater mystery, and his ability to turn it the other way from Root, but Cook will be in his ear with different ideas based around familiarity and poor net-bowling in the Windies. My feeling is based purely on cynicism, but I don’t think they’ll play both this summer. If Rashid gets a game it’ll be because Ali has been suffering. I hope that doesn’t happen, though not because I don’t rate Rashid – I do, as much as I can without seeing him play much. Firstly, it’s because Ali seems like a good guy, and secondly as I have sub-zero confidence that Cook will be able to nurture, guide and help Rashid through his test debut. If the Aussies get after Ali in the first two tests, I want Cook to be played a video, on permanent loop, of Morgan putting his arm round Rashid and giving him the last over in that ODI at Trent Bridge.
Sean B Absolutely for show – i think there is more chance of seeing Lord Lucan riding Red Rum down Queen Street than England playing 2 spinners at Cardiff. They had the perfect opportunity to play to 2 spinners at that bunsen in Barbados and still only ended up playing 1, so if they didn’t do it there, they won’t do it at all. I also don’t see who they would drop to accommodate 2 spinners – it would be madness to drop Stokes, but that would be my gut feeling on who would get the chop if they did.
David O – Yes they might. All-rounder Stokes is a credible third seamer, and if the came across a ‘raging bunsen’ England have the option of playing two spinners and still having enough seam options in a five-man attack. But it’s unlikely. I think we all expect them to start with Moeen, and turn to Rashid if we go a Test or two down. Personally, I wish we’d be bold enough to pick Moeen as a batsman, and Rashid as a bowler – though you could almost switch that around. My own England team would have 6 bowlers –

1. Cook
2. Lyth
3. Root
4. Barstow
5. Moeen Ali
6. Stokes
7. Buttler
8. Rashid
9. Broad
10. Anderson
11. Wood
The Bogfather

For sure it’s for show at the Mo’

Cookie won’t want to be Adil-do

By not having a clue how to win

By placing fields for twin spin.

If England wanted to show fight

They’d let Buttler bat higher and delight

Bring in Bairstow to keep up close

He’s more used to Rashid’s mixed dose

And Jonny’s in hot form with the bat

So what would be wrong with that?

If that means dropping Ballance or Bell

Then so be it, what the hell!

3. You are the last panel before the start of the series. You can give me a score if you want, but who do you pick to watch for each team as the key performer (one of you I know the answer from….)
Rooto – I’ll repeat my bold claim of 0-4. It’s hard to judge the weather forecast for Nottingham, Cardiff, London and Birmingham when I’m sat in sweltering Mediterranean heat (sorry to mention it), but in this mindset I can’t see Anderson thriving. Too dry and flat. This leaves England’s key player as Broad. He’s not going to be dropped in a panic as others might, and he just might swing a game for us (see question 5). My other answer is Cook, perhaps repeating other people’s responses. So much will trickle down from his performance. For Australia, we know what we’re getting with the bowlers, and with the quality batting that Clarke and Smith bring, so the crux for them, the known unknown perhaps, is Warner. He tees off successfully enough times, and our neck is feeling the hobnails again.
Sean B – For me, there are a number of people who could be key performers on both sides (Anderson, Stokes, Warner, Smith) but i would go for Root for England and Lyon for Australia (expecting some abuse with the latter choice). I think Root will need to play the same way as Ian Bell did in the 2013 Ashes series and score a mountain of runs for us to have a chance. I can see the Australian attack making early inroads into our batting order and with our late order batsmen sometimes flattering to deceive (they’ll either put on an extra 150 or fall over for 30) i think we are very reliant on Root. I have chosen Lyon because i think he is a vastly underrated bowler and I think spin could play a big part in the series. Lyon quietly goes about his business but he has the ability to either tie down an end or to be an attacking wicket taker. Whilst not a big turner of the ball, he varies his pace well and is a wily bowler (whilst the plaudits for the debacle down under should rightly going to Mitchell Johnson, Lyon took his fair share of wickets that series as well and i think he is even better now). If you offered me an English ‘Nathan Lyon’ i would snap your hand off, i just don’t think Moeen is quite good enough.
David O -I’m backing my ‘Youth over Experience’ narrative for the series and England to win 3-1, possibly coming from behind – but definitely having the best of the luck and the weather. Little things we’ve mentioned lately in passing,but not focused upon, may have a bearing e.g. Australia’s behavior. If Haddin etc are as foul as they were in the World Cup I think the officials (consciously/unconsciously) will lean in England’s direction and we may be at the better end of those key border-line decisions and DRS reviews. This is nothing but a hunch. But a think a moment has been reached when the authorities have grown tired of their histrionics and may be less accommodating to them.

Key performers:
For Australia Mitchell Starc. And Pat Cummins. One-eyed joy at the retirement of Ryan Harris is tempered with the call up of Cummins. I first saw him and Starc during the 2012 World T20 tournament, and I thought ‘shit – these two will blow us away in next year’s Ashes (2013)’. Of course we didn’t see that happen – but my premonition may still come to pass.
The batting form of Smith, Warner and Clarke is also crucial. Is Smith the real deal, or a shooting star. Is he phenomenal or a phenomena? Likewise Warner. And is Clarke still great, or is this his last Test series? Is the decline of his back, and form, terminal?
For England Root and Stokes. Are these blokes good cricketers, or great cricketers? Ashes series decide these things. Root is going to overtake Alastair Cooks run scoring record about 15 years from now. He’s bound to have at least one 700+ victorious Ashes series. I’m hoping this is the first. Stokes has likewise got a Botham 1981 or Freddie 2005 in him. Is this their time?
Equally, several senior England players need to set their career record straight – further failures for Cook, Bell, Broad and Anderson could see all of them put out to pasture if England get stuffed. If they have a big part of an England victory, we’ll collectively gloss over 2013/14 (as we did 2006/07) and acclaim them as England ‘greats’ (though I do fear we may get thumped and wave farewell to them all as England ‘goods’).
The Bogfather:

2-0 after three

To the Aussies it’ll be

Then our leader is replaced

by the young and fresh faced

Joe Root…

He’s held our batting together so far

Already lauded as a global superstar

He’ll take up the challenge with gusto

Watching him grow is a must…Oh…

Here he comes on a Wood-en horse

Leading us to win the last two of course

So a 2-2 draw, no Ashes regained

A flight of fancy? Must pull in my reins!

Opening morning of Ashes is dawning

MSM bow down with such fawning

As Cookie awaits the first ball to face

He prods forward, a buzz, a nick, at pace

An appeal, hushed silence. Hark!

Here cometh, Mitchell Starc…

4. Jonny Bairstow is in incredible form both in ODI and county cricket. Will he replace Bell or Ballance before the series is out?
Rooto – I hope so. The sooner the better. We need to ride the wave of his form. It would be very old-school England to pick him as it crashes onto the beach. If I was trying to convince Trevor Bayliss, I’d talk about Bairstow as an essential extra member of the squad; of the importance of having a squad of regulars, from whom the most in-form are picked, especially as it’s a tightly-packed back-to-back series; and therefore of the need to tell Ballance that he’s merely being rotated for a short while.
Sean B – They won’t drop Bell full stop unless he is injured (whether we agree that’s right is up for debate, but that’s just the fact of the matter). Ballance has looked in incredibly poor touch and is most at risk, his footwork has been non-existent and has looked like he has been trying to play french cricket for the past 6 months, which is a real shame as he was a revelation last summer. Bairstow is the next cab off the rank (and more worringly the only cab off the rank), so if Ballance has a poor couple of tests, then i can see Bell moving up to 3, Root at 4 and Bairstow at 5. If we get a couple of injuries to the batting line then i would be seriously worried, as i don’t think Lees is ready, Hales still needs to work on his 4 day game and Vince isn’t good enough. I like the look of Varun Chopra, but that is just a personal opinion.
David O – Yes without question.  Bairstow is in wonderful form and ought to be in the side at this minute. I’m totally unconvinced by Ballance – and was when he was scoring runs for fun. But I hope I am wrong.
The Bogfather:

I think I covered this in Q2

And that is what I think they should do

But knowing how clever our selectors are

They’ll wait ’til the Aussies lead by two bar

and Jonny will then be so out of form

So they’ll pick him, isn’t that the norm?

5. Finally, give me a favourite Ashes memory that isn’t 2005 or Botham’s Ashes for the English respondents….
Rooto – Broad, Durham 2013. I thought we were going to lose that one. Also, I was able to watch it abroad on a legal, not-for-UK youtube stream. I think that was officially the last good thing the ECB ever did for fans.
Sean B – As i’m banned from saying 2005 (I pulled so many sickies at work that series to watch the cricket), then i would say the Melbourne and Sydney test in 2010/11. I have always dreamed of watching an England team travel to Australia and then completely crush and dominate the hosts (unlike the normal spineless demises of past and present). This was a demolition job, an absolute embarrassing pounding from both ball and bat and it was wonderful. To see the normally chipper hosts (I was watching the coverage in Malaysia at the time on channel 9) be an embarrassed and meek shell of themselves was extremely fun to watch. I don’t think i’ll ever see an Australian team rolled over by an innings, 2 matches in a row, at home again and i revelled in it. I also really liked and connected with the England team back then as well – The Swann sprinkler, Chris Tremlett (who i had a bit of a man crush on in that series), KP, Trotty, Bresnan, it was just a great and likeable team and we played some wonderful cricket in that series.
David O – 3rd Day at Edgbaston 1985. I was 16. My Dad and I and some of his friends went up for the 5th Test, for the first three days, series level at one-all. After 2 rain-effected days Australia were 330-8. When we got up my Dad looked at me with shock and horror. One of those awful looks parents give teenagers, and we just want to say ‘fuck off!’ I said, “what?” “Look in the mirror”. I did. I was covered in spots. I felt fine – but that was it, we were heading home. When he rang home my Mum revealed that my brother had come down with German measles. Ah.

We drove home to London listening to the cricket. England took both the final wickets in the day’s first over, and despite Gooch going for 19, Gower and Robinson creamed the Aussies all day in glorious sunshine, adding 331 for the 2nd wicket. By the close we were ahead with plenty of wickets in hand, and in a position to boss the match. I’d missed one of England’s great days of Aussie bashing. My Dad had got home in time to pick up his Spurs season ticket and head off to White Hart Lane. First day of the season, Tottenham unveiling new signings Chris Waddle and Paul Allen. They won a spanking 4-2. No wonder he made such a quick decision that morning without protest.
I got through my German measles. I didn’t get to see Ellison’s decisive series-winning spell on the Monday evening live on TV – the BBC had left the cricket when the extra hour took play into their normal evening scheduling – but I can confirm that despite my incapacity, I saw clearly and distinctly Gower take a clean catch off a Wayne Phillips cut via Allan Lamb’s boot on the Tuesday afternoon. It was nowhere near the ground. Obviously. Ever.
The Bogfather:

Not an Ashes memory, but my first Eng v Aus experience. As a bit of background, my initiation to Test cricket came in ’76, watching Greenidge, Richards, Roberts, Holding et al on the box, as well as Hampshire at the United Services ground, Portsmouth. Then, in March ’77 came this…

I lay awake in pure excitement

Radio tight to my ear

Awaiting the Centenary Test

from Melbourne, near midnight here

My first exposure to radio commentary

And from 12000 miles away

Determined to stay awake

E’en tho’ I had school the next day

Sound kept low so as not to wake

Anyone else in the house tonight

Crackling lines and Aussie tones unknown

Yet still Arlott was there to delight

What a first day

Australia blown away

McCosker felled, as seagulls stood in a line

Lever and Willis, Old and Underwood

Only Greg Chappell briefly withstood

This was more than mere dreams, so sublime

Then England were shattered

Lillee and Walker battered

All out for less than a ton

Greig top scored with eighteen

I remember him yorked, it seems

Leaving Willis, not out, one

Second innings commencing

No more tepid batting or fencing

Aussies building, Hookes imperious

Marsh, a century fightingly serious

McCosker jaw-strapped

Aussies cheered and clapped

The score mounted, 463 to win

Surely impossible, imagine Lillee’s grin

Early wickets fall

Brearley grinds and nicks

Then Randall fidgets and refuses to fall

Except for a back-roll after a Lillee ball

He doffs his cap as the bowler glares

Passes 150, supported by Amiss’s share

And Greig, then Knott edge us past 400

Until Knott, LBW, Lillee’s 11th wicket plundered

So near yet so far, and an amazing final stat

45 runs the final difference,as was 100 years before that…

Well, that was different. The panels will be mixed up now, and it’s not to late to get on one by the way. You have our e-mails and twitter feeds, so on certain days we might get you to comment on the days play or some big issues. Thanks thus far, and we’ll certainly reconvene at the end of the 1st test…..

33 thoughts on “Ashes Panel #003 – Starc Ballanced Poetry, Give Johnny A Bell

  1. cricketjon Jul 5, 2015 / 2:18 pm

    I agree with the fella that said England won’t drop Bell unless he is injured. Some people just don’t get dropped. The West Indies played Carl Hooper year after year after year because they believed in him ( they only really got full value from him in the last third of his career). Bell will get runs trust me but as significant as 2013? We shall have to see.


    • escort Jul 5, 2015 / 3:32 pm

      England have stuck with Cook when his form has been far worse and for a greater length of time. Perhaps England should give Bell what he has said he wants (to bat No3) and just see how it goes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dvyk Jul 6, 2015 / 10:18 am

        He did okay at No. 3 in 2006/7.


  2. SimonH Jul 5, 2015 / 2:51 pm

    Johnson and Starc could be key players – with the bat. Both have ability (MJ has a century, Starc a 99) and both tend to score quickly. They are likely to bat at Nos. 8 and 9 and if Australia have a weakness (based on recent form) it is the batting of Watson and Haddin at Nos. 6 and 7 – so if Johnson and Starc don’t make runs mini-slumps could become major collapses. Neither player showed any form with the bat in the WI Tests.

    Lyon can hang around but he isn’t going to hurt England like those two might and it’s too soon to say about Hazlewood (he made 39 in the First WI Test and shared a large stand with Voges but he looks to be backing away against faster bowlers).

    Australia could shore up their lower middle order with Mitch Marsh but after the tap Lyon got at Chelmsford and with Cardiff’s short straight boundaries I think they’ll go with Watson for the control he offers with his bowling.


    • paulewart Jul 5, 2015 / 6:55 pm

      Well he won’t be backing away from our bowlers then, will he 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mark Jul 5, 2015 / 3:53 pm

    Well done all!

    Bogfather I remember the same experience of the centenary test listening in bed with a transistor radio. I kept falling in and out of sleep, each time waking to hear that Randalll was still going. Inching us closer and closer. Then I fell asleep and when I awoke the result was in.

    Incredible that the result was exactly the same as the one 100 year before.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Rooto Jul 5, 2015 / 7:27 pm

        I loved that part, Bogfather. You’ve got a couple of years start on me, just a couple, and I particularly like to hear about cricket from the decade of my birth, but before I watched it. What a decade it was too. So much more riveting and multi-faceted than my 80s (which was all Windies).

        Liked by 1 person

    • dvyk Jul 5, 2015 / 9:42 pm

      Yeh, that brings back some memories for me too. Randall’s innings was tremendous- really gutsy. He must be the most popular English cricketer in Aust, I think. (I won’t try to think of another…. though I always liked Knott when I was a kid too). Randall got man of the match, IIRC. I still remember his speech — “And thanks Dennis for the bump on the ‘ead.” (He got floored by a Lillee bouncer that hit the badge on his cap, and knocked him off his feet. He bounced straight back up and rubbed it a bit, and faced up again.)

      …..And Max Walker said that they should have named Bradman in the team and let him get the 4 runs he needed to get his average up to 100.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jul 5, 2015 / 10:37 pm


      • dvyk Jul 6, 2015 / 10:41 am


        Thanks for that! Some brilliant pull & hook shots off Lillee there. At point he ducks one, tumbles backwards, does a backward somersault and comes up with his cap in his hand and sticks it back on his head. Classy.

        Also interesting that he was given out caught behind and Marsh called him back, saying it hadn’t carried…. Those were the days.


  4. Tuffers86 Jul 5, 2015 / 5:04 pm

    What’s with all the negativity around Bell? And all the positivity around Bairstow?

    KP for bell yeah go for it, but to suggest Bairstow is a better batsman than Bell is fucking foolish.


  5. cricketjon Jul 5, 2015 / 5:38 pm

    I only referred to the concept of Bell being dropped or not dropped. I did not say he should be dropped for I see no reason for this.


  6. SimonH Jul 6, 2015 / 9:11 am

    Potentially very good finish to SL v P building in Pallekele. Pakistan have virtually five sessions to make 377 and after losing two early wickets Masood and Younis are rattling along.


    • SimonH Jul 6, 2015 / 9:18 am

      Good stat – and I’ve checked it this time!

      Younis Khan has the third highest average in Test fourth innings (only Boycott and Gavaskar average higher):


      • wrongunatlongon Jul 6, 2015 / 10:55 am

        It’s an absolute bug bear of mine that SKY have the rights for all international cricket, and instead of showing it on one of their 5 sports dedicated channels, they have:

        “SKY Sports Today”
        “Premier League Years 1997/1998” (highlights from 15 years ago)
        “Natwest T20 Blast” (highlights from yesterday)
        “Sky Sports Years – 1996” (wow).
        “Spanish Gold” (highlights from months ago)

        There should be a law which states that if the broadcaster decides not to show something that they have paid for, another channel should be allowed to do so, for free. I don’t even care if they piggy-back on Sri Lankan TV to show it – at the end of the day, I pay SKY a lot of money in spite of myself, because they have the rights to cricket…so it should be fucking on!


      • Arron Wright Jul 6, 2015 / 10:59 am

        “Sky Sports Years – 1996”, aka “An excuse to show Liverpool 4 Newcastle 3 again, Kevin Keegan losing it again, and lots of no-marks talking about it again… with Newcastle 5 Man Utd 0 thrown in as redemption near the end.”


      • d'Arthez Jul 6, 2015 / 11:24 am

        The problem with the qualifiers is that you leave out a fair portion of Test history. No player who started his career before 1965 (Boycott) has made 1000 fourth innings Test runs. And that is simply a function of the amount of tests played up to then.

        Bradman misses out with only 734, at an average of 73.4 (15 innings, 5 not outs).
        Hobbs with 979 runs at 57.58 also deserves a mention (23 innings, 6 not outs).


      • SimonH Jul 6, 2015 / 11:51 am

        Masood and Younis still going strong and Pakistan now need less than 200 with 8 wickets still standing.

        This will be Pakistan’s highest 4th innings to win if they pull this off (beating 310-odd against Australia in the 1990s – although they’ve made 340 to draw). They made just over 300 to beat SL in Sharjah last year when the RR required was more demanding.

        Younis Khan needs 13 more for his 5th 4th innings century (which I think will be another record). His list of 4th innings totals is well worth looking at. Three of his four centuries were against SA and the other against India. He has twice been run out for ducks in the 4th innings!

        Shan Masood has played very nicely at the other end. His cutting has been delightful. He’s just bought up his century with a six (some players who look to do that get criticised….. ). The pitch has gone dead for the seamers but is turning considerably – however they’ve attacked Kaushal and he’s lost his line and length (SL dropped Herath which isn’t looking so clever now). Still, one wicket and it could all change…..

        IK2’s five-for to demolish SL’s lower order shouldn’t be forgotten as well.


      • SimonH Jul 6, 2015 / 12:43 pm

        Younis got his century just before the close. Pakistan need 147 more tomorrow with 8 wickets in hand and a good weather forecast.

        Apart from a dose of the nervous nineties he looked in no trouble. His 5th century in Test 4th innings is indeed a record (Gavaskar, Ponting, Sarwan and Graeme Smith have four).


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 6, 2015 / 12:43 pm

          They’re determined not to allow me to catch up on century watch!


      • SimonH Jul 6, 2015 / 2:18 pm

        D’Arthez, I take your point about 1000 runs minimum so here’s the table using 500 runs as the minimum:

        It brings in some past players like Bruce Mitchell and of course Bradman but also some modern players like Kohli and…… next batsman in, Misbah.

        LCL, at least there’s lots to say about the Younis century! Feel free to use some of the stats I’ve mentioned if you like.

        This match isn’t over yet. A quick wicket or two tomorrow and that target can still look some way off (and Pakistan have a long tail). One good thing for Pakistan is that because of their fast scoring the second new ball is still 17 overs away.

        Most predictable English media trope of the next fifteen months:
        [Younis Khan scores a century off England in UAE]. “Blimey, this Younis has a great record. Why are we so unappreciative of him?” followed by “these pitches are roads – how can anyone be expected to take twenty wickets on these?”.
        [Yasir Shah then bowls England out]. “These pitches are dustbowls – how can anyone be expected to make runs on these?”.


  7. ianrsa Jul 6, 2015 / 10:15 am

    Lovely Bogfather and well done to the other panelists.

    Derek Randall quite possibly my favourite cricketer of all time.

    I like this idea Dmitri and I realise that you have Dennis to weigh in on behalf of the Australians but another one or two would be good.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Arron Wright Jul 6, 2015 / 10:56 am

    I have been a regular for 17 months, but haven’t volunteered for any of the panels, so by way of atonement here are some answers:

    1. As with the bookies, confidence has not moved at all. It seems most people – not just the bookies, but the entire Daily Mail preview panel for instance, were already factoring in Harris not being fit. Johnson, Starc and Hazlewood outbowled England in the Windies; Siddle is a decent backup with good experience over here. Some of the reaction to Harris being out of the series has been wildly optimistic. I’ve seen some people saying it makes Cook more likely to go big – well, Johnson got him four times to Harris’s three in 2013/14, and Lyon got him twice. And, while Harris (3) was indeed the only man to dismiss him more than once in 2013, hilariously he managed to get out to eight different bowlers, three of whom are in the 2015 squad. #justsaying

    2. To quote Shania Twain, you must be joking, right? As Vic Marks has pointed out (far more politely than I’m about to), the failure to pick Rashid in Barbados was a stinking catastrophe of a decision that probably ranks as the most idiotic thing the England selectors have done since picking Bresnan over Panesar in Ahmedabad. And, just as with that howler, the usual suspects lined up in support, this time repeatedly citing a poxy warm-up game as evidence that Moeen Ali should be dragged halfway around the world to bowl instead. There is something a bit weird about the press’s attachment to Moeen – some people seem almost unnaturally invested in his success. Anyway, we have backed ourselves into a corner, and will do the conservative thing and pick Moeen. I voted him third best England player of summer 2014 in Dmitri’s poll, citing huge promise. But I have always suspected that he’s about to have “second album syndrome” of Stone Roses proportions.

    3. Still Australia 3-1. Key performers – for England, Stuart Broad. Contrary to popular myth, whenever he’s been fit he has outbowled Anderson across every Ashes series they’ve played together, and by a considerable margin. Vital spells at The Oval 09 and Durham 13 effectively sealed both series, and I’m pigsick of people saying Stokes was “the only positive” of 13/14 when Broad averaged well below 30 across all five matches and was the only senior player to enhance his reputation. For Australia, Mitchell Starc. Just because I want to see all those people who seem to think the 2013 Ashes series is a better guide than everything he’s done in 2015 eating humble pie with a side order of their own words, washed down with the egg dripping from their faces.

    4. I wouldn’t be surprised, but I’d be very wary of getting too excited. He has almost no Test credentials to speak of, and to be brutally honest was the worst England player I saw in 2013/14, against some stiff competition. Although to be fair that includes his keeping, and he wouldn’t be doing that this time. For all the fears I have about Ballance, I’d be sticking with him and Bell for a minimum of two Tests. I respect the opinions of those who follow country cricket closely; I hope there aren’t too many people jumping on the bandwagon on the basis of that ODI innings, because the bowling (and some of the captaincy) was largely abysmal. It was – somehow – worse than a mirror image of England bowling to Haddin eighteen months ago.

    5. I have already mentioned 1985 several times, so I will choose my first day of live Test cricket, which was 12 August 1989, the Saturday of the fifth Ashes Test at Trent Bridge. Australia had regained the Ashes in England for the first time since 1934 in the fourth Test at Old Trafford. On the final day of that match, news had broken of the first ‘rebel’ tour of South Africa in seven years. The current ECB managing director of Cricket Partnerships and President designate of Marylebone Cricket Club, and the rest of his sorry little band, were banned immediately. A(nother) new-look side turned up in Nottingham, with debuts for Mike Atherton and Devon Malcolm, and recalls for Martyn Moxon and Eddie Hemmings. From the Old Trafford side, Robinson, Emburey and Foster were banned; Gooch asked to be dropped.

    There is a strong argument to say this was the nadir of English cricket in my 34 years following it, although the immediate recall of G****ng and permanent dumping of Gower three years later was worse in my book. On the pitch though, there’s surely no competition (with the possible exception of The Oval 1999). Having grown up with two 3-1 victories at home, and with our press calling the 1989 tourists the worst ever, to see Australia 3-0 up and 301-0 after day one at Trent Bridge was the ultimate in humiliation. Who knew, even then, that it was no one-off summer, but a harbinger of the next 16 years?

    My Saturday began with the wicket of Healy and Australia’s second declaration of 600-plus for <10 in the series. And continued with England slipping to 1 for 2 and 14 for 3. But it is not the humiliation that I remember, but the defiance of two men. First of all, Robin Arnold Smith, who made his second hundred in consecutive matches, a glorious 101 in which he treated Merv Hughes with the utmost disdain. I remember Merv coming to field at long leg after a spell of 4-0-31-0 and the crowd bowing to him saying "You're our saviour, Merv". Smith has probably been my favourite England batsman ever since, although sadly I have to leave him out of my 1981-present England XI due to the overwhelming credentials of my equally ill-treated second, third and fourth favourites.

    Secondly then, Ian Terrence Botham, playing what would turn out to be his final Ashes Test. I saw his final Ashes innings: coming in at no.9, with a dislocated finger and making 12 runs in nearly an hour. He was out shortly before close of play, and I swear the ovation he received was as long and intense as Smith's. For my part I was applauding for Headingley, Edgbaston and Old Trafford 1981, for those sixes off McDermott at Edgbaston 1985, for the 138 at Brisbane and everything else I'd seen him do on TV over the last eight years. Who's to say there weren't other 16 year-olds doing the same, or even some grown men? I think we knew we wouldn't see him face Australia again.

    So there you have it: some thrilling and moving defiance amidst absolute humiliation. Yes, Saturday 12 August 1989 really was a harbinger of the next sixteen years. And my second day's live Ashes cricket was Friday 4 June 1993. I know how to pick 'em (unlike Mr. Gatting).


    • metatone Jul 6, 2015 / 12:37 pm

      Don’t forget that Moeen was patently not fit, which would surely have been obvious in the nets, but they played him anyway. Turned out not to damage him long term, but it wasn’t a smart risk to take.


    • dvyk Jul 6, 2015 / 3:37 pm

      I think Aust are more concerned about Broad than JA. They don’t quite seem to know how to handle him. Sledging doesn’t really work, so that only leaves option 2, which is more sledging, and that also hasn’t worked.

      I’m sure they’re also concerned about the possibility of Cook digging in and playing a support role for a proper batsman, but I doubt that they’re scratching their about how to bowl to him.

      Incidentally, I haven’t volunteered for any panel because I haven’t been keeping up with the game generally for a quite a while, so I lack perspective and knowledge. So it’s all up to Ian to represent the country. (I’d be happy if Fred wanted to volunteer as well though!)


    • metatone Jul 6, 2015 / 5:36 pm

      I’d put Lyth up as a pretty crucial performer. We know Cook is likely to let England down – he has mostly against Australia. If Lyth can’t compensate then England have little chance of building some big scores.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. ianrsa Jul 6, 2015 / 11:46 am

    I’m very glad that you weighed in Arron. I had been surprised that you weren’t on a panel (Dmitri should have hounded you).

    I particularly like your memories and I hope that your desire to see pastry and egg products decorating certain peoples visogs comes to pass, I most sincerely do. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. SimonH Jul 6, 2015 / 8:10 pm

    According to Nick Hoult, the final choice between Ali and Rashid rests with Cook.

    Wonder how that’ll go……?

    (Pardon my cynicism but is that a clever bit of politicking by Bayliss – make the right choice and he empowered the players, make the wrong choice and Cook gets the blame?).


    • metatone Jul 6, 2015 / 10:16 pm

      Well, equally there is no point in picking a bowler who the captain isn’t going to use.
      The cynicism from Bayliss comes in taking a job with pre-conditions set by the administrators.
      (No KP, Cook guaranteed as captain for now, etc.)
      Mind you, I could probably be cynical if a foreign country offered me £400k to put up with some pre-conditions as part of being their coach.


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