Ashes Panel #004 – Surprise Surprise For The Dad’s Army….

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Here is the 4th in our series of panels, and with one glorious exception, they seem to go down well. As I could run just two before the Lord’s test, I’ve expanded the invitation list and secured a new contributor to boot. So, without further ado, let’s introduce our guests..

We have Keyser Chris (KC), David Oram (DavidO – the man behind Roland Butcher’s Hook), Steven Melford (SM), The Great Bucko (SeanB), and Paul Ewart (PaulE – a regular round these here parts). We also have newbie, Martin Payne (MP – who I’ll let off being a Hammer for now), who is a debutant and I’m sure we’ll make him welcome.

So, off we go… Fire Away. Apologies if we lose the formatting, it always happens!

1. Well, that was a surprise. Or was it?
KC – Yes, that was a surprise. I had a sense this team could play like that, but didn’t expect it to actually happen. Just goes to show that simple things like pitching the ball up with fielders on the drive works. Who knew…
SM – The question for me was always could England carry the aggressive mind-set kindled in the New Zealand ODIs into the tests. The answer was yes. I was worried this would be choked. For for too long we’ve had a team that was ‘less than the sum of the parts’. That’s no longer the case and we have a team playing to their full potential. The fact that these players at their best can challenge the Australians is not a surprise. The fact we’ve turned the approach around so quickly is a surprise. And not a great reflection on the previous ‘leadership’.
DavidO – Of course it was. But isn’t it amazing how many people, subsequently, now say they could ‘see it coming’ after the event? Those are the people I’d want to hear from about what will happen next at Lord’s!

Pre-series, on these panels, and in the wider print and broadcast media, the consensus was ‘more of the same’ from down under 2013/14. I have a personal sense of cosy smugness right now as one of the few believers backing an England series win in Ashes Panel 3 – but I am realistic enough to know that Australia may come bouncing back and still stuff us. But I am thoroughly enjoying the moment! I can go to Lord’s next week knowing the worst I can see is Australia level the series.
PaulE -Yes. I didn’t expect England to play so well or Australia to play so badly. Hats off to Farbrace and Bayliss, it just goes to show how much untapped potential there has been in this poorly led team.
MP – Very much so. I came into the series thinking the worst (a built-in mechanism for me when it comes to the Ashes) and both teams have surprised me. Australia perhaps are not as strong as I gave them credit for, although I expect them to bounce back at Lords. England have carried on their attacking intent from the NZ one-dayers which is good to see. Could have been very different if Haddin had taken that catch though…

SeanB Well Watto getting out LBW twice and then referring was a pretty nailed on certainty. I’m not sure if it was a surprise or not, mainly because i couldn’t really call the series before the start (think i went for 2-2 in the end), that said, it was a very encouraging result for England and we played some really positive cricket. I think the Australians were caught cold by the pitch and spent most of the first innings banging it in halfway down (something England generally aren’t immune to doing), but i think my main concern would be their batting unit as it crumpled in a heap twice in the test with some very ordinary shots. We all knew that they would try and attack Mooen, but some of the shots were just outright slogs, so i think they will need to reassess how they play him for the rest of the series. I think England winning the first test is what the series needed as i would have been worried about old wounds reappearing had it been the other way round.

2. A lot of conjecture about the pitch, which I’ve heard more than a few complain about. What were your feelings about it (presuming you saw the game)?
KC – I don’t think the pitch was anywhere near as bad as made out. Last years at Trent Bridge was far worse. It seemed like the media getting excuses in really early on day one by going on about that. 300-350 seemed par for the wicket, which is good for result cricket – it was Roots ton that slanted the game massively in our favour.
SM – So Australia would prefer a pitch that plays more to their strengths? Who knew! 40 wickets fell; one team scored over 400; one team scored their runs at over 4 runs an over; spinners and seamers took wickets. It was fine.
DavidO -It was a poor pitch on which excellent cricket was played. Scorecards do not always accurately reflect the state of the pitch. We’ve all seen days when twenty wickets fell on a shirtfront in three sessions. But this was not the horror track some attributed to it e.g. Boycott and George Dobell. It IS a bad thing to have balls bouncing in front of the wicket-keeper on the first day – but let’s be honest, we do not want to produce fliers for Johnson and Starc! Surely we were all jumping for joy when we saw the pair of them dig it in early, and it scuttle through to Haddin on his knees!? They did still manage to get the ball around the ear-oles on occasion, so they weren’t entirely neutered, but the pitch did reduce their potency.

Jarrod Kimber was spot on in his assessment – home advantage is an important part of the game, and visitors SHOULD find it hard to adapt. And they didn’t. Uneven surfaces and indifferent bounce make for far more interesting cricket matches than ‘roads’. But ultimately, an England Ashes win is of far more importance to me than ‘bright’ cricket. And yet, despite the sluggish track, we had both! More pitches like this will try the patience, but I want the Aussies to come back to England next time still never having won an Ashes series here since 2001.
PaulE – Don’t like it. If the rumours about groundstaff brushing the wicket are true then it’s doctoring, pure and simple. I wouldn’t mind so much if we didn’t whine quite so much when ‘shifty foreigners’ do it. Play up and play the game and all that.
MP – I think the description of the pitch as turgid is probably a fair one, but still the Test failed to reach a fifth day so perhaps some of the criticism has been over the top. It seemed like a fairly typical Cardiff wicket to me..

SeanB – Pitch wasn’t great in fairness, although it did just produce a result in 4 days as a caveat to my first statement. I’m slightly old fashioned in that i like to see something there for the quicks and when someone bowling at 90mph can’t get it above head height in the first morning, then it’s a little bit disheartening. It was an obvious ploy, that as England felt the Australian bowling unit is their main strength and hence ensured that the pitch would be fairly slow and low to negate this. We were never going to see a green seamer or a quick bouncy wicket, just as we would never see a raging turner at the Gabba; however it does mean that it will be harder and harder for away teams to win away series when the pitches are doctored to suit the home side in such an obvious way (i can’t remember the last truly quick wicket produced in England). I would suggest we will see similar pitches throughout the series

3. Are you of the view that this test goes to show that Australia are an old team and this could get messy in a hurry for them?
KC – I reserve all judgement until after Australia have played on the pace and bounce of Lord’s. They may be ageing, but there is also a lot of experience in english conditions in that side. I thought their bowling looked slightly undercooked as well; in two weeks that’ll change. That’s not to say I wasn’t a little smug overnight to my Australian friends.
SM – I think they have at least one crumbly too many and it’s time for change. We now have definitive proof (again!) that the Watson experiment is not working. Not sure Haddin is justifying his place. There were also other things didn’t come together for Australia in this test. Harris being ruled out; Starc not at full fitness; Johnson and Warner not firing. I think they will come back fighting & pose a much tougher challenge at Lords.
DavidO – Yes, and yes. Though it is more likely they will rally, ‘dig deep’ etc. and be much tougher at Lord’s – including bringing out the old bad mouthing etc. I suspect they’ll win the 2nd Test – but that they haven’t got enough in their legs and aging bodies for the full five Tests. But of course I would love to see them unravel again like they did at Lord’s two years ago. As I said before, a good team on paper is capable of folding.
PaulE – Could do but as well as they bowled at Cardiff, Jimmy and Broad(y) aren’t Mitch and Rhino. I expect a snarling response. Let’s remember, had Haddin not dropped Root we’d have been in a sorry state. Fate, gossamer threads and all that.
MP – Not really. I would expect them to play a lot better at Lords. I would expect Johnson to have a more productive time on a presumably faster wicket and if Starc regains his fitness in time that will be a boost for the Australians. I can’t see Smith and Clarke going too long without big innings either. I think the main question is can England continue to play at the same intensity that they showed here.
SeanB I think this test shows that Australia also have weaknesses if Warner and Smith don’t fire, but to write them off at this stage would be foolhardy as they have had a lot of success over the past 18 months. I do think it is a series too far for Haddin and for me Watto is the epitome of wasted talent (though i find his continued struggles with the straight ball sidesplittingly hilarious) and i’m not sure they have got the right balance to their team – it looks like Harris could be a bigger miss than we all thought it would be. I would expect Mitchell Marsh to come in for Watto next game and maybe Siddle to get a game if Starc pulls up lame, but i still expect Lords to be a closer game and i think this series will ebb and flow. I might be wrong, the wheels might come off and England might hammer them, but i just can’t see it.
4. Joe Root was man of the match, and it was hard to argue against that. Who would have been your runner-up?
KC – Goes against the grain, but Chris Rogers is certainly worth a mention. And for pure comedy value, Shane Watson. Why Australia still persist with him is bizarre (sorry, but any chance to have a dig at Shane will be gleefully grasped by me…!)
SM – Broad and Moeen both had strong tests. After a tough time, Mooen proved critics wrong with both bat and ball. Broady just edges it though because of the comedy value of 1) getting Watson to review an LBW decision and 2) for ‘walking’ only to be recalled to the crease. Root’s hight point for me was being in utter stitches when Cook took one to the plumbs. Future captain material for sure.
DavidO – Moeen Ali. Had a super game, and he proved he can take quality Test wickets, despite bowling his fair share of rubbish, and still bat like a Test top order player from number 8. England are blessed with having three proper ‘all-rounders’, men who are genuine top-6 batsmen, who also bowl or keep wicket. Add Root as a more than useful bits-and-pieces bowler and we have so much more depth in batting and variation in bowling options than we had a year or two ago. If we were brave enough to add Rashid instead of Lyth, Bell or Ballance (and bat Moeen in the top 5) we’d have even more bowling options, and I’d back Rashid at 8 to still score quality runs. We have some super cricketers, who proved how good they can be when they play to their potential – but in our euphoria let’s not forget that they have already previously proved to us just how crap they can be too.
PaulE – Stuart Broad or Moeen Ali, vital wickets at vital times. Too close to call when you consider Ali’s runs.
MP – I would go for Moeen Ali. An important innings to get England over 400 in their first innings and chipped in with some vital wickets, particularly the Warner LBW.

SeanB – Broad for me was very close to being man of the match and it was the best i’ve seen him and Jimmy bowl in tandem for a long while. Their bowling on the morning of day 4 was brilliant and although they didn’t get the wickets they deserved, i thought it set the wheels in motion for the afternoon. Broad for me, is a painstakingly frustrating bowler, sometimes looking like a world beater and sometimes looking like a clown, but one thing we know is that he has periods when he goes on a hot streak and takes wickets galore, which is something i’m hoping will happen over the next 4 games. One other point on Broad was that he spoke very cogently to Ian Ward at the end of the test around the game plan they had for the Aussie batsman and how he struggles to bowl full and straight as it sometimes comes out too floaty but realised bowling wicket to wicket was the answer in this pitch. I think the England bowling coaches have really done their work on the bowlers, now that David ‘bang it halfway down the pitch and look hard’ Saker has since thankfully departed and it shows in the fact that all the bowlers have been more consistent this summer.

5. Do you think this marks a vindication of sticking by Alastair Cook as captain of England?

KC No. This looks far more like a continuation of the change in thinking in the ODI team, with added Bayliss. Alastair Cook doing things right is automatically deemed “innovative” by certain sections of the press. The real reason England won is because the bowlers pitched the bloody ball up. But that won’t suit the narrative.

SM – No. It was his best test as captain but I’m reminded of the saying “even a broken watch tells the right time twice a day”. If I’d captained England for what seems like a decade,  I’d have had one good day at the office! Cook’s captaincy is much better when the team is well on top. When we are up against it, he is poor. Let’s see what happens when things are not going so clearly our way.

DavidO – Vindication is a horrible world. It’s too near a relation to vindictiveness for my comfort. I wish we’d all get away from this situation where everyone seems to have some point to prove about Cook/Pietersen/ECB etc. What’s done is done (and it was a disgrace) but I want to focus on the cricket now please.

Cook captained well – but let’s not get carried away. He will have good and bad games in the future, like Clarke has always done. I’ve never agreed with the received wisdom that Cook is a bad captain, and Clarke a great one. They both have had their moments! Clarke is undoubtedly better tactically, but he is not Bobby Fischer or Julius Caesar. Neither is Cook George Custer or Lord Cardigan. Besides, many past captains have agreed that the on-field stuff is the easy bit. Well, we seem to only compare Cook and Clarke in that arena. Having the players ‘with you’ is something in which Cook has hugely out scored Clarke, in both good times and bad.
Cook has not been an especially good, or especially bad captain – but as the incumbent he is certainly the best-man for the job right now. Root may prove to be a superior successor, but he would not be better NOW at this moment in time unless he’d already had 6-12 months behind him. This may yet prove to be Cook’s last series as Skipper, and I like the idea that we may win the Ashes, and he stands down as leader anyway. He might see that as VINDICATION, but personally I have no interest in either petty self-absorption or brick-batting.
PaulE – No. Whilst its heartening to see someone learning after 115 test matches, England could and should have been playing like this for quite some time. The recent improvement merely highlights how much time and potential has been wasted under Cook’s craven stewardship. This is Joe Root’s team, if you’re still in doubt read Jason Gillespie’s piece today: Yorkshire tactics, Root and Farbrace.
MP – I probably have a more favourable view of Cook than most on this blog but I don’t think so. He’s had some shocking moments over the last 18 months and has certainly received more second chances than captains of old. Having said that I thought he got most things right in this Test and has certainly improved as a captain but one swallow does not a summer make.

SeanB – Hmmm – not sure how to answer this one. I have been a bigger a critic of Cook’s captaincy as anyone on here – I think i called for the Investec Zebra to be given the gig at various points last summer. Credit where credit is due, Cook has his best game as England captain (though some runs would be nice too) and he tinkered with the bowling and the field and it paid off big time. My biggest criticism of Cook is that he lets games drift and after plan A fails, plan B involves trying to bounce out the opposition and plan C – well there is no plan C, but this wasn’t in evidence in this game. Could this be the input of Farbrace and Bayliss? Is this a new Alastair Cook, trying to get England playing an aggressive style of cricket? Only time will tell, but it has been a positive start and also means the Root can concentrate on his batting (and we are massively reliant on him) rather than being constantly linked with the captaincy this summer.

So, there you have it. My thanks to the contributors, who, once again, have put a lot in and gave up their time. I’m also thinking of five more questions to put to the next round of the panel, so look out for the e-mail later tonight. If I could have responses for Wednesday on those, then I’d be really grateful.

As usual, be gracious in your comments, even if you disagree. I thought the chaps put in a great show and I want them back!!!!!


56 thoughts on “Ashes Panel #004 – Surprise Surprise For The Dad’s Army….

  1. metatone Jul 13, 2015 / 7:44 pm

    On the pitch, I knew from the weather forecast that it was likely to be turgid. That doesn’t prove there was no “doctoring” going on – but Australia should have been anticipating the possibility that a rainy Cardiff would mean a turgid pitch – and have been ready with a change of bowling strategy.

    Certainly I for one get tired of how Australian pitches are declared as “natural and neutral” and (for example) Indian spinning pitches “home advantage.”


  2. dvyk Jul 13, 2015 / 8:34 pm

    Interesting thoughts, one and all…. Many thanks!

    I must agree with Paul E here. Atherton said on the first morning, quite explicitly, that the ground staff had brushed the grass from the pitch — “they were down on their hands and knees with brushes”. For me, that’s going a bit far and being too decisive an influence on the style of cricket played. I don’t care about any perceived disadvantage to Australia, because both teams had to play on it, and teams should be flexible.

    Sorry, but if catches aren’t carrying to the slips at 90mph in the first hour of the game, it’s a substandard pitch, and if it was markedly altered so as to be substandard, then yes, I would call that doctoring the pitch. But I’m more pissed off about the way Aust played on it than I am about the wicket though.

    But it was negative. It’s a slow wicket anyway, and as it is, England have three excellent fast bowlers. I would liked to have seen England back them, especially against Australia’s quite dreadful batting line up. There’s all this talk about playing attractive cricket, and bringing the crowds to test cricket. Jimmy Anderson is supposed to be England’s “greatest fast bowler ever” isn’t he? I would have thought they’d want to give him a chance!

    I wasn’t surprised to see Aust go down. I’ve been quite pessimistic in my comments here so far, and if anything bought too much into the idea that they would outperform England. Previously I thought only Starc and Hazlewood would be reliable and possibly even destructive, but apart from them everyone else is an unknown or past it. And even those two are unknowns. Aust were already flying by the seat of their pants (and have been since Warne & McGrath retired). They could be in very deep trouble in this series. They will be lucky to win a single game in my opinion, and if they do come out empty-handed, the management deserved harsh criticism. If you play a bunch of dudes rather than give young player a learning experience, and still lose, then it’s really dumb.

    Rogers, Clarke, Watson, Haddin, Johnson will all retire soon. That’s an awful lot of kids to bring in at one time to replace them. Where the hell are the batsmen? And why the hell is a kid — Cummins — being rushed back after 2 years break and only 6 FC matches before that???? Australian cricket is in far greater trouble than English cricket.

    Last thought — for me the crucial change for England has been discovering Mark Wood. They suddenly have a genuine third seamer. With Jordan & Finn loping in they always looked a bowler short to me. If Andersen and Broad ever learn how to bat sensibly with a recognised batsman, England will have a really strong batting line up. Might even give SA trouble.


    • Zephirine Jul 13, 2015 / 8:49 pm

      The other great thing about Mark Wood is he’s a loon. He’s daft and funny without the cruel streak of Swann’s humour. Wood’s presence makes it that bit more difficult for England to go back to the po-faced percentage playing of recent years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • dvyk Jul 13, 2015 / 9:03 pm

        Yes — I was fully expecting to dislike him a lot, but I’m surprised to say I quite like him. Seems a decent fellow and a good presence to have on a cricket field. Also seems to have another quality that is entirely lacking in Cook (and everyone one in his fan club) — a sense of irony.


      • Fred Jul 13, 2015 / 9:33 pm

        It’s about time England had a loon in its ranks. Australia has lead the way with Warner, perhaps this is Englands response.


    • Fred Jul 13, 2015 / 9:30 pm

      Agree reagrding Wood, he seems like particular talent, but he seems to have come into the side without much fanfare, compared for example to Root or Ali. But if he’s as good as he looks, he’s a pretty crucial part of Englands future, and a very handy addition for today.


    • SimonH Jul 14, 2015 / 9:39 am

      “If they do come out empty-handed, the management deserved harsh criticism”.

      Let’s start with the selectors. I can see why Australia’s selectors went down the ‘Dads’ Army’ route – they tried a number of inexperienced players (Pattinson, Cowan, Khawaja, Agar) on the last tour and it didn’t work out whereas older, more experienced players like Rogers and Harris were their main bright sparks.

      However the decision to omit the engine room (Maxwell and Faulkner) of their WC winning team (and we need to remember they are recent World Champions) seemed to me at the time a peculiar one. Neither has pulled up any trees in their Test careers so far but neither has exactly had much of a run either (especially Maxwell has been picked, dropped, picked in the wrong position, dropped etc in a manner that recalls the England selectorial handbook from two decades ago on how to ruin players). Both have sound batting techniques that should make lots of Test runs – I’d have some doubts about both their bowling in Test conditions but they aren’t going to find out sitting on the sidelines.


  3. MP Jul 14, 2015 / 3:22 am

    Thanks for the kind welcome – with regards to the Hammers, I was indoctrinated at a young age so can take no responsibility for my fervent support!


  4. Mark Jul 14, 2015 / 9:42 am

    The issue of the pitches is an interesting one. I think most people think Cardiff was a typical Cardiff pitch. It is usually slow and low. So even with the groundsmen on their knees cutting the grass off, it didn’t really play differently to what was expected. The majority view seems to be that preparing pitches for your own team is fine and dandy. I was listening to Marcus North last night and he pointed out that Aus have only won about 4-5 test matches away from home over the last 5 years. compared with their home record this is chalk and cheese. Slow and low seems to be needed to negate their fast bowlers.

    I do worry if we go down this road we will end up with very one sided home wins. 3-0 to England last time in England, followed by 5-0 to Aus. 4-0 England beat India 4 years ago followed by 3-1 last year. Of course there still are exceptions Englands 2-1 victory in India, and South Africa’s 2-0 win in England.

    Cooks captaincy is behond a joke to me. The Eulogising in the media about the fact he managed to captain a side well who had control of the game after 2 days, and after he has been doing it for years just proves how poor he has been. I also don’t buy the comment that the players do follow him. The ECB has ruthlessly removed any player who does not toe the Cook line. Shit, they have even remove commentator’s who dare to criticise him.

    Big test at Lords now. Aus really can’t afford to lose and go 2-0 down with 3 to play. Their top order batting looks frail (just as it did 18 months ago) but it seems Haddin ain’t going to bale them out this time. I’m still concerned about our batting against their blowing if the pitch has anything in it. They did manage to bowl us out second innings in only 70 overs. The first innings lead was crucial.

    Finally, the age of the Aus team says more about where Aus cricket is than anything else. Young Players have traditionally been the way Aus have gone. Yet the fact they cling on to so many oldies suggest the youth cupboard is bare. What is extraudinary is there seems to have been little in the way of talent that came out of all those years of dominace 10 years ago. You would think there would be a long line of blonde bombshells all wanting to bowl leg spin. It never happened. I guess Warne was a one off. A freak if you like. We were lucky to live in a time to see him even if he did torture so many England players.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sean B Jul 14, 2015 / 8:49 pm

      Yes definitely agree, and I suppose that was the point I tried to make in my comments above. The thinking is very short term around how we blunt this attack, rather than building a side capable of winning in all conditions. England are most definitely not the only side that does this (see India’s form away from home), but it does seem we’ll get home dominance in most series unless another team resembling the Aussie team of late 90’s/early00’s comes along


  5. SimonH Jul 14, 2015 / 9:59 am

    On the pitch, I’d just add that as someone who lives in Wales there was a lot of rain in the four days prior to last Wednesday. The pitch was clearly very damp on day one and that was the biggest factor in how it played thereafter.

    On Mark Wood, I’ve heard (can’t remember where – probably Switch Hit) that he was definitely going to be rested in one Test. Anyone have any thoughts when that should be – and who would replace him? His average speeds at Lord’s will be worth keeping an eye – they declined considerably between Lord’s and Headingley against NZ. In a TV interview he had a heavily strapped left ankle visible.

    Not necessarily related but I noticed Chris Woakes has just played his first f/c match after his injury in the WC.


      • Mark Jul 14, 2015 / 11:45 am

        Not even going to bother reading it. Just from the headline you know it will be ECB Pravda. All success will be attributed to him, and the establishment. It’s the way they roll. Never admit fault, never apologise, and never admit others were right.

        It’s why the ECB will always be a drag on supporting the England team.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Arron Wright Jul 14, 2015 / 12:07 pm

        I don’t always agree with ballsintherightareas but he’s nailed this one.


      • hatmallet Jul 14, 2015 / 1:21 pm

        Was thinking the same thing Arron, ballsintherightarea did a good job of tearing apart the article.

        That’s not to say Strauss hasn’t done a good job so far, the KP messiness aside, but it’s the overstated important, again, that grates.


      • Zephirine Jul 14, 2015 / 1:22 pm

        Will he also be the architect of the failure if we lose the rest of the series?

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 14, 2015 / 11:49 am

      Don’t bother asking Selvey about it. He positively gloats about how clueless is his knowledge of the ICC.


    • metatone Jul 14, 2015 / 1:13 pm

      The whimsy contains some particular nonsense that got me steaming.
      Of course it is true that the majority of cricket followers (esp. during a working day) are using the radio or the internet. But few people are going to become cricket converts by stumbling on TMS. Radio coverage is inherently less accessible than TV for newcomers to the game.


      • Arron Wright Jul 14, 2015 / 1:23 pm

        Quite. I first listened in 1989, eight years after first watching it on TV. I never chose radio over TV in the remaining 16 years of FTA coverage, and rarely did so when I had Sky. TMS is a necessity now, but I still learn more from the TV highlights.


      • Zephirine Jul 14, 2015 / 2:11 pm

        The Spin concedes that TMS is ‘arcane’ – I’d suggest that anyone who casually encountered it and didn’t know about cricket would feel completely excluded and would certainly not be converted to the sport. The whole atmosphere is of an in-crowd. In fact, it’s a double in-crowd, exclusive to cricket and exclusive to TMS itself with all their favourite jokes and cakes and whatever.

        Obviously when there are TV pictures you can start to understand what’s going on just by watching. But also, one of the things I would praise Sky for is that they do bear in mind the novice supporter and particularly kids, even if this means sometimes they explain too much for the liking of the connoisseurs.

        TMS is useful, of course, and accessible, but it’s too damn pleased with itself for my taste.

        Liked by 1 person

      • escort Jul 14, 2015 / 6:16 pm

        Tms is slowly but surely going the same way as most of the BBC’s output. What a shame

        Liked by 1 person

      • man in a barrel Jul 15, 2015 / 5:55 pm

        From recent experience, you can listen to TMS for 30 minutes at a time without hearing the score or even who is batting and how many they have made. It is a truly abysmal, boring love-fest with everyone competing to be the most affable and off-topic person on the planet. When Swann is on, it gets even worse, he launches into a 5 minute panegyric to Alastair Cook and how much the fans love him, regardless of whether Cook is actually on the field.


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 15, 2015 / 6:01 pm

          Ah. Lovejoy. Just an awesome presence. The funniest man alive. I concur about the lack of score updates. Most noticeable with blowers sadly.


  6. mdpayne87 Jul 14, 2015 / 12:21 pm

    Haddin out of the Lord’s Test for personal reasons.


    • metatone Jul 14, 2015 / 1:14 pm

      Well that settles that debate then.


    • Mark Jul 14, 2015 / 2:39 pm

      This tour is beginning to resemble the last Ashes 18 months ago. Only in a mirror image.

      Home side as underdogs win first test match against most experts predications.

      Haddin pulls out of next test for personal reasons. (Not for one moment it’s the same personal reasons as Trott, but there is a similar outcome.)

      Harris pulls out because of injury and retires from cricket. Not quite the same circumstance as Swann who did play the first 3 test matches, but he too retired mid tour.

      Watson on the brink of being sacked and having his career ended. Sounds again a bit like the Swann situation.

      I wonder if cricket Australia will hold an impromptu team meeting where players will be asked to speak freely, and the captain will then go running to the coach to spill the beans?

      Finally at the end of the tour cricket Australia decide to fire their best player. (Silly Mark, that would be a stupid thing to do,,,,,,,,,oh wait…..)

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Jul 14, 2015 / 4:09 pm

        I was also starting to think there were some parallels – but as well as sacking the best player they’d also have to promote Lehmann to uber-coach and reappoint Mickey Arthur while hailing him as “the greatest coach of his generation”.

        Putting a wicketkeeper from the 1980s who’s not been heard of much since in charge would be the icing on the cake. I was going to suggest Wayne Phillips or Greg Dyer but both are still active in the game and don’t have the necessary experience of twenty years in banking to fall back on.

        Some way to go yet then…..

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Boz Jul 14, 2015 / 3:58 pm

    Breaking news – Jim White is in meltdown extremis, his flabber absolutely gasted as the news that Alastair Cook , the leading English cricketer of all time, is having a real quandry about whether to get his hair cut or not. This decision, as yet unknown, comes on the back of Cook’s glorious victory in Cardiff against the old enemy Australia. White clearly sees the outcome as important as winning the toss at Lord’s and promises to keep everyone in touch with the progression of this vital news ………. an ECB spokesman has said “whatever Cook does, it will not affect the outcome of the second Ashes as people get their hair cut all the time” ….


  8. d'Arthez Jul 14, 2015 / 5:28 pm

    Completely off topic:

    Meanwhile in Scotland the World Cup T20 qualifiers are going on.

    Seems that bowling first is a massive advantage, judging by the results thus far. Oh, and rest assured. Teams playing in the Scottish conditions will really know what will hit them in the actual tournament. In India. Would have made more sense if the main tournament was in England, so that the Associates would be somewhat familiar with the conditions.

    So, for the ODI World Cup to be held in England in 2019, the qualifiers will be in Bangladesh. And for the World Cup of 2023, the qualifiers will be in Zimbabwe. Care to guess where the main tourney is?

    Hard to argue that the ICC is not trying its best to ensure failure on the part of the Associates.


    • d'Arthez Jul 15, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      Yesterday the Netherlands, batting first, lost to Oman.
      Today Ireland, batting first, lost to Papua New Guinea.

      Good efforts by the winning team thus far, but you really get the impression that qualification seems to hinge on coin tosses (and then electing to field!) more than playing ability.


      • mdpayne87 Jul 15, 2015 / 12:39 pm

        Oman have caused another huge shock today by beating Afghanistan. I notice that they have employed a certain D. Pringle as a consultant for the tournament. Maybe he has found his calling…

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Arron Wright Jul 14, 2015 / 8:00 pm

    Is it just me corner… how the hell has a filler story about beer harvested 850+ comments at the Guardian?


    • escort Jul 14, 2015 / 8:15 pm

      Alice Beer?


      • metatone Jul 14, 2015 / 9:12 pm

        So Jimmy is an angry drunk?


      • escort Jul 14, 2015 / 10:11 pm

        Jimmy can do angry on draught.


      • Mark Jul 14, 2015 / 10:36 pm

        This beer gate thing is priceless.

        The whole social etiquette of beer drinking with your opponents in the 21st century. First off England agonising whether to invite the Australiian players in for a drink, and checking if all the players are in favour of making the offer. Then the Aussies having to decide if it was a trick, and England might be gloating.

        What happened to the Aussie philosophy of work hard, play hard? I thought the Aussies were up for a beer after every test match. I didn’t realise they only have a beer after the series was finished. Was that always the way? I thought in Bothams time they were drinking all the time. Didn’t they all go off to a barbecue at Bothams house on the rest day of Leeds test match in the 1981 Ashes test match? England were on the verge of losing and they all partied.Those were the days when they would socialise in the middle of a match.

        All this is fine if you are winning as England were in the 1980s. Which of course lead to Alan Borders team arriving in 1989 with the Aussie team under criticism for being too matey with the England players. So Border adopted a no socialising persona. Which included comic exchanges between Gower and Border as Border refused to say good morning to Gower as he came out to bat. And Gower following him all the way to the wicket saying “Good morning Alan”


      • Zephirine Jul 14, 2015 / 11:35 pm

        I think the ‘what Jimmy’s like’ is because Anderson is clearly stirring it. Like he does.

        One story is that Ricky Ponting put a stop to the post-match drinks after 2005, having decided that Aus had been insufficiently grim with their opponents and that was why they’d lost. But I’m not sure about that, because I recall that Flintoff was heavily criticised during the 06/07 whitewash for still drinking with the Australians even while they were beating us. Perhaps the teams weren’t meeting up but he was on a solo mission of rapprochement.

        Call me a churl, but I think the funniest part of all this is that Alastair Cook is clearly trying to be Brendon McCullum.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. paulewart Jul 15, 2015 / 5:35 am

    More subtext alerts. This time it’s Vic. The key word is, of course, began:

    Cricket teams run best when the captain is obviously in charge with the coach helping, prodding and picking up the pieces wherever necessary. That was how Fletcher worked; it was also the pattern when Andy Flower began with Andrew Strauss. The coach’s input might be all-encompassing yet it often remained clandestine.


  11. paulewart Jul 15, 2015 / 5:37 am

    Hmmm I wonder where he got this from:

    He [Cook] said he wanted us to stop talking about scrapping and fighting and take that as a given. It was now time to show our skills, for the players to express themselves and enjoy playing for England, to play with a bit of freedom.”


    • Mark Jul 15, 2015 / 8:17 am

      But the change of attitude had begun in the ODI team. (Cook wasn’t captain) Cook trying to claim credit for the change in Englands cricket is like me claiming credit for bodyline.


      • paulewart Jul 15, 2015 / 9:05 am

        Indeed. One could argue that it started with Stokes and Root in the test series but we all know it was a result of those particular players responding to their instincts, supported by Farbrace. This whole piece is another attempt to excuse Cook by throwing Flower and Moores under a bus. Whither Cook’s protests a year or two years ago?

        He may be excruciatingly dim but he’s politically savvy: he’ll do anything to save his own skin and will take credit for victories whilst excoriating others (Morgan, Pietersen) for defeats.

        The subtext is twofold: that Flower and Moores were rubbish and that Cook wasn’t leading the side. Pretty dramatic stuff if one pauses to think about it.


      • Mark Jul 15, 2015 / 9:23 am

        It’s almost unbelievable, but if you have watched Cook over the last few years it is standard operating procedure. He has turned saving his own skin into an art form. Throwing people under the bus is just an occupational hazard.

        It amuses me greatly that so many stupid people still think he is a nice guy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Arron Wright Jul 15, 2015 / 9:51 am

        Coming soon: “it was Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss who concocted the idea to invite the Australians for a drink. Truly the masters of psychological games as well as on-field strategy, they will deserve all the credit if this devious tactic bears fruit at Lord’s.”

        No-one genuflected at the feet of Hugh Morris when he was Director, Cricket and employed Flower, did they? Yet Strauss is already some sort of genius.

        I never had a great deal of respect for Moores, but it was literally the most predictable thing in the world that the press would seek to credit Cook, Strauss then daylight for any tangible improvement in performance once he was gone.


        • LordCanisLupus Jul 15, 2015 / 10:31 am

          My comment is there is a main common thread between MooresDownton and BaylissStrauss and it’s Farbrace. Now Moores never came across as a rod of iron bloke so what was Farbrace doing then?

          As for the drink thing. Lord. We are so damn pious aren’t we? Or maybe it’s more psy-ops.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Mark Jul 15, 2015 / 10:04 am

        Arron , never underestimate the cringing, grovelling toe sucking of the establishment by the MSM.

        All those free tickets, and fine wines don’t come without obligation.


      • paulewart Jul 15, 2015 / 11:50 am

        Well a no2 can’t be seen to usurp a no1. You know how it works in football, Dimitri. The no2 is often there to put the training cones out. One imagines that Farbrace’s job was to carry out Moores’ bidding, carry out designated training exercises etc etc.


      • Zephirine Jul 15, 2015 / 3:25 pm

        “He may be excruciatingly dim but he’s politically savvy: he’ll do anything to save his own skin and will take credit for victories whilst excoriating others (Morgan, Pietersen) for defeats.”

        I think it’s a mistake to assume Cook is dim. He’s extraordinarily narrowly focused, highly competitive and amazingly obstinate. Like he bats. If an idea doesn’t come into his range of accepted ideas, he’ll ‘leave’ it. But that doesn’t mean stupid.

        And yes, he is politically savvy. He has a real (quite enviable) gift for getting round male authority figures. One of the things he admits in that autobiography is that, having won a music scholarship to Bedford School, he spent his whole time there only being interested in cricket and somehow got the school to let him keep the scholarship and to accept that a music scholar who wasn’t that bothered about music was a great thing if he could go and score centuries for the school.


    • Zephirine Jul 15, 2015 / 2:57 pm

      “It was now time to show our skills, for the players to express themselves and enjoy playing for England, to play with a bit of freedom.”

      I really do feel sorry for Pietersen when I read that kind of statement. All his nasty divisive rebellious disengaged ideas are now the official line.


      • thelegglance Jul 15, 2015 / 5:57 pm

        Ironic isn’t it? He’s become the John the Baptist of English cricket.


      • Zephirine Jul 15, 2015 / 7:02 pm

        Cassandra, I think – the gods blessed her with the gift of prophecy, but cursed her that she would never be believed.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. SimonH Jul 15, 2015 / 9:39 am

    Good to hear Ricky Ponting backing the cause of cricket in the Olympics.

    Doesn’t he realise that not disrupting the English domestic schedule for a couple of weeks once every four years is more important than global exposure?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. SimonH Jul 15, 2015 / 12:56 pm

    Guardian reporting Moeen Ali needs a fitness test before tomorrow’s game. Do senior players now have fitness tests (because I can’t believe Prior had one last year) – or is Ali not yet considered a senior player?

    The most concerning thing is that it sounds like it is the same injury he sustained in the WC. On top of that, it sounds like Woakes and Jordan also sustained similar injuries while on England duty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • metatone Jul 15, 2015 / 3:30 pm

      This makes rushing him back in to the WI series look even more stupid.
      Going to be a tough Test for his replacement if he can’t play, as the Aussies will be out to bat the new guy out of the attack.


  14. Belgianwaffle Jul 15, 2015 / 3:48 pm

    Wasn’t the big surprise the fact that England could perform like that under Cook rather than the performance itself? With that snark out of the way, it would be good if he could keep up the improved captaincy. Think we might be in trouble at Lords though.

    Zeph nailed it re TMS. Although I should confess that it actually was listening to us win the Ashes on the radio with a headphone under the blankets when I should have been getting some sleep before school that cemented my love of cricket.

    As others have said, beergate is a ridiculous story.


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