First of all, I’d like to echo TLG’s tribute to Clive Rice. The 1980s were my formative time when it came to cricket, and Clive Rice’s Nottinghamshire loomed large on the scene. As someone put on the comments, he used to win those all-rounder competitions that were the rage in the 80s if memory serves. He was a fine cricketer and that’s all I need to know.
It’s been another funny day. Lovejoy has been on Aussie media doing a no doubt hilarious impression of Kevin Pietersen. I’ve read the transcript and I’ve just got back from A&E to sew up my sides. Needless to say, those who adore to hate Mr Pietersen think it’s really funny and that we don’t get the gag. I’ve been here before. We’re as mad as the moonies. Classy.
So, on to the main business, and that is Ashes Panel #008. First up an apology to Dr Melf from Twitter land as I left him out in error (and I wasn’t well yesterday so didn’t e-mail him the questions) while asking the Great Bucko to go twice. If Sean would like to contribute that would be fine by me.
So who do we have? We The Bogfather for the poetry, we have Rooto, we have Oscar da Bosca, we have Colonel Blimp (David Oram) and paulewart. Legends all, panelists to be revered, and comments to read. As always, my huge thanks for their participation, and for the time and effort they put in, including waking up before the kids to contribute their efforts. It’s seriously amazing. A bit like the Moonies!
Oscar – Awful, just awful, I work from home and tend to watch the first hour or two of the test before the guilt takes over and I start working with TMS on (and the SKY feed handily a few seconds later so that I can turn and watch the delivery)… I watched for about 6 overs. Rogers tried to hit the cover of everything and looked vulnerable, but the bowling was so ordinary from Anderson that any pressure from Cardiff was gone in an hour. Broad bowled well throughout the match, but was the only one of 5 bowlers to do so. Warner gifted his wicket in such a manner that it showed the placid nature of the pitch and only a mistake was going to get a batsman out. Smith has clearly decided to milk Ali which doesn’t help as no pressure is created by him if the fast bowlers are bowling well at one end….
Sometimes they collectively appear to give up….Perhaps a captain should be a leader of men and capable of inspiring with words as well as deeds, it would appear that if the deeds aren’t done by either the captain or the FEC at number 5, then the rest of the batters give up. The bowling is more complex, whilst I don’t agree with Metatone completely, we do struggle on flat pitches as we haven’t ‘mystery’ or pace (although I think Wood has potential, but he clearly cannot maintain his pace over back to back test matches).
PaulEwart – Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The ECB press and their acolytes look more and more foolish by the day. If Captain Dimwit identifies a pattern before you do, then you really are in trouble. How can anyone take these people seriously?
The 1st Test was a pleasant surprise, but I fully expected a snarling response from a wounded Australia and they didn’t let me down. The selectors identified a weakness and rectified it without ceremony as I suspected they would Talk of a crisis in the camp was, as usual, overplayed. I found the contagion here more perplexing: some of you lot engaged with it! Happily normal service was resumed last week both on and off the field.
As for the match itself, well it was a pretty spineless performance wasn’t it? And the media’s response to our best player was predictably mean-spirited. I’ve got a bad feeling about Ben Stokes’ future given how every misstep is scrutinised by relentless churls, curmudgeons and deracinated medium pacers.
The only worry, from an Australian perspective is Pup’s form. Then again Steven Smith’s record as captain’s none too shabby. I’d expect a more competitive England this week, but I’d still expect Australia to win and if the pitch has any pace in it, it could turn nasty. Strauss’s e-mail shenanigans suggest that all may not be well in paradise. Let’s hope the nauseating honeymoon’s over. I’m still not comfortable with either his role or his ubiquity. There’s a real sense of lines being crossed/blurred at the moment.
Rooto – The second test unfolded predictably (for a pessimist). I was pleasantly surprised by … no, sorry, nothing there. On the other hand the second innings collapse was less surprising, and showed how little Rodders has managed to instil any steel core into the team. He really does captain for himself. I’m inclined to be indulgent about the under-performance and say “these things happen with young teams”, which perhaps helps to explain the over-performance in the first test a little bit too. The team doesn’t have to be so young, but that’s not the players’ fault.
Trampled underfoot from day one
Caught in the pace-place headlights
Crumpled in a heap, as pressure won
Fraught thinking, courage an oversight
Rankled with me, so tactically undone
Day four, no resistance, no fight…
We may have known whether or not Lyth has the temperament for Test cricket.
We would have had an experienced no 3 (who may or may not have done well, but we ended Trott’s test career in the WI by making him open).
We have a problem with the top order but we are bringing in another middle order batsman.
I hope Bell succeeds at 3, but I fear his eyes may be going (it may be form, but he reminds me of Vaughan’s last days, lovely strokeplay, but missing straight ones). As for Bairstow, well I would have bought in a more experienced no 4 (with a great record against Australia) and left Root where he is, however I wish him well, he is scoring bucket loads in the county championship and probably deserves his another chance (particularly after that innings in the ODI v NZ).
PaulEwart – I haven’t seen enough county cricket to comment (don’t tell wctt), but in KP’s absence he seems to be the next cab off the rank. He, like so many others, has been treated shabbily by England thus far. Let’s hope he’s ironed out his technical difficulties and can make a go of it. Whilst its always good to see successful county cricketers rewarded, I do sometimes yearn for Duncan Fletcher’s left of centre hunches (though he had a much better record with batsmen than with bowlers!). I liked what Jason Gillespie had to say about Bairstow, but am reminded of Geoff Boycott’s noting that he saw himself as a wicket-keeper batsman rather than a frontline batsman. Time will tell. It may be that he and Jos Buttler swap roles in the long term.
To pick a player in form is so rare
Yet to replace a 3 with a 5 shows panic
With Bell promoted to next man hanging
Selectorial nonsense seemingly manic.
Where is the middle order solidity?
If Root fails at 4, where’s the glue?
Will Bairstow dig-in’ for a day?
Or will we still swing without a clue?
Shifting the deckchairs is not a plan
Nor is it fluid or organic
Captain Cook may seek his Bounty
But sadly he skippers the Titanic…
PaulEwart – He’ll succeed if conditions suit, he won’t if they don’t. He may have lost the capacity to threaten without the right conditions. Wasn’t Selvey grumbling about his being down on his speed in the Caribbean? It could be the dreaded “loss of nip”. Again, time will tell. It’s not as though anyone’s banging at the door.
Rooto – The acid test is coming for Jimmy. Edgbaston and Trent Bridge should suit him more, or at least people expect them to suit him more. Therefore if he doesn’t get the wickets, there will be media pundits and fans wanting him to make The Oval some sort of swansong. But he’ll play all three tests. I can’t comment on any technical problems, as I’m mostly just listening.
Poetry Corner With The BogFather…
The slow decline continues
No longer able to lead the attack
Still carrying an injury?
A slight action change, stiff backed
Becoming a one trick/track pony
Without a plan B, he lacks
The pace to worry a batsman
Or the skills to thrill, alack.
PaulEwart – I can see Australia dismantling England if the pitch has any life in it. They opened some old wounds at Lords, despite what Moeen may say. I can’t see England doing the same, the 1st Test was just the kick in the pants Australia needed. Let’s just hope we’re competitive after the mauling at Lords. Still, we are a very odd team at the moment, and Root, Stokes and Buttler can take the game away from any team. I don’t think they will, though. The Aussies have rediscovered their collective mongrel/ticker (delete as appropriate). A draw is the best we can hope for.
We don’t do close anymore
So the gap is no surprise
Winning margins continue to grow.
Is this first day initiative?
Or just a period in time
Or perhaps it’s just because
They’re no longer able to bat time…
Has ODI and T20
Led to a loss of application?
It seems a world problem
Not just for these two nations.
Yet the quality of bowling in general
Is lower than 20/30 years ago
So when true pace or spin arrives
Technique is the first thing to go…
I think potentially he could be a big loss, because whilst Warner will probably get a lot of runs, his style makes him suspect to getting out early. Marsh is an odd one, great heritage, but he has been knocking on the door for a long time and I think he is in his early 30s. To me, given that Watson has opened, Warner was picked in 2012/3 from T20 with very little FC experience, I have to presume he isn’t the answer long-term for Rogers. On a good pitch (with a good toss lost!!) they could be 30/3 before they know it and suddenly under pressure. That’s why cricket is such a brilliant game, because 30 minutes in 6 hours of play can turn a game. I still remember sitting at Edgbaston behind the bowlers arm with Freddie bowling to the greatest allrounder the game has ever seen (Kallis – I thought I would stir a debate btl that isn’t Ashes related J). For a two over spell the game almost stopped and became just a duel between two men, the atmosphere at the ground was so intense it was eerie. Plus Collingwood got a place saving century with a 6 (Pieterson was criticised the previous day for trying to do the same (plus ca change)), I also like to forget that Graham Smith batted for the whole of the last day to save the game.
Enough digression, Rogers is a big loss for Australia, their middle order’s suspect…what could possibly go wrong (I am betting it is called Mitch).
PaulEwart – He would, he’s in sparkling form. But so is Shaun Marsh. The middle order is looking a little vulnerable with Clarke and Voges yet to catch fire, but Mitchell Marsh looks promising and Mitch, Warner and Neville look in good touch. He will be a loss, but I expect a strong performance from an Aussie side on a roll. It must be that ‘deep momentum’ or is it that mysterious but vitally important ‘luck’ thing…….
A player well versed in our conditions
Providing solidity at the crease
Who bats for the team and his partners
Allowing them freedom and release
He’d be a loss to any team
And though It pains me to say
I hope he’s passed fit and well
And is able to play…