Ashes Panel #008 – Jonny Be Good, Chris Be Well

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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!

Fire away:

1. I’ve asked all the panelists so far, so why not you too? Your reactions to the 2nd Test result and the way the match went.
Colonel – Awful. I was there for all 4 days, and being an unrepentant one-eyed English optimist it was painful – but I also thought it was a poor advert for cricket. The first day was the most mind-numbing I’ve witnessed in person since Day 1 of Nottingham 1989 (Aus 301-0). Subsequent days were more interesting and I enjoyed our fightback for the most-part of the first 2 sessions on the Saturday. Sunday’s capitulation was abject, although not boring in the way the Thursday had been. I had a super time at the Test catching up with family and friends and boozing heartily, but the cricket was a major disappointment. Australia were thoroughly professional; England weren’t. I hope they’ve got it out of their system quickly like a dodgy biriani and return to the rude health of Cardiff.
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….
That said, if England had won the toss I am not convinced that Australia would have done much better in terms of runs on that day, (but probably for 5 or 6 wickets).  Scoreboard pressure is real, and the collapsibility of our top order just adds to the pressure on a decent middle order.  It was abject, but this England side post no 1# status has shown they are capable of really abject matches let alone sessions or days.

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.

Poetry Corner With The Bogfather…

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…

2. Ballance paid the price, and the second panel had their say in #007. Let’s look at his replacement. Any thoughts on Jonny Bairstow’s selection and views on how he would do?
Colonel – Bairstow should have been picked from the start of the series. THE form batsman in England, with the renewed confidence of his match-winning ODI innings behind him should have played ahead of one of the 3 passengers in our top 6. I hope he will succeed in the 3rd Test, but this will be as much a test of his character as his technique. I think he’s up to the task – but we shall see.
Oscar – We are paying the price of Cooks awful form last year and the decision not to blood Lyth in the West Indies.  We are also doubly paying as if Trott was going to come back into the side it should have been in his position at 3.  A lot of judges better than I thought Ballance had a technical issue last year, and that better bowlers would expose it.  This has happened since the WI tour and the decision to drop Taylor just before the WC and rely on Ballance at 3 in an ODI side without any form whatsoever is now biting us.

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.

Rooto – I’m happy with the batting rejig, as I’m a Bellophile. I remember getting up at 3 just to watch the last rites of the Perth test 2010, purely because Bell was still in overnight. Of course he got out straight away. I think this Bellophilism may be closely connected to my pessimism. Anyway, Big Johnny B. I wanted him in the team, as I’ve followed the county scene from afar, and he is without doubt its star this year. I hope he will walk out with enough confidence to belligerently turn around any 30-4 situations, in much the same way as Stokes has done twice already this year. If he can’t thrive now, at the top of his form, no-one can. I’d be interested to see if a successful Bairstow puts pressure on Buttler to score more runs, too. (And if there’s pressure, how he responds to it).
Poetry Corner from The Bofgather –

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…

3. I really worry about the way Jimmy Anderson has started the series. Do you share my concerns, or should I just relax?
Colonel – Absolutely! Anderson has been a shadow of himself for 18 months. I entirely agree with those who felt that mammoth performance in the 1st Test of 2013 was the final drawing from his well of quality, and if he can’t raise his game in the last 3 Tests than his time has come to retire. Having said that, he bowled with more purpose, zip, fire etc in the 1st 2 overs of the 2nd innings at Lord’s than I’ve seen in a while. Viewing from a mid-on angle at the ground, he briefly demonstrated an extra yard of pace and energy. England had had a quite intense huddle as the took the field 2nd time around and were busy and purposeful – they were clearly determined to give it a ‘real go’ – which disappeared immediately when until Adam Lyth dropped that catch. It was the 2nd time in 2 innings that abysmal cricket from Lyth entirely deflated the whole team. With the debilitating effect Lyth’s 2 moments had on England’s mindset I’m surprised he wasn’t dropped. But I think his card is marked.
Oscar – Nope, whilst I admire Dennis Loves Cricket I think the arrant nonsense that he has spouted about Jimmy for the past few years was undeserved.  I am not so sure it is anymore as something has gone awry, he seemed to lurch towards 400 wickets (I am sure they were talking about it when India were playing last year, but that might be my memory).  He seems to have lost a bit of zip and doesn’t seem to gain the swing he used too.   Hopefully the wicket at Edgbaston will suit him.  I fear that he was (alongside Swann) bowled into the ground during the last years of Flowers regime and we are now paying for the 4 bowlers “give it to Swanny/Jimmy” mentality of those years.  People commented on this at the time, people commented on this after the fact… we are now seeing what 3 years of a ridiculous schedule with only 4 bowlers does.
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.

4. Both test matches have surprised in the gap between the two winners. Do you see another one-sided match or is this going to be closer (let’s ignore the weather reports for now)?
Colonel – God knows. I’d hazard a guess at a closer contest, but after the relative unpredictability of the first 2 games it’s anyone’s guess. I suppose most will predict another emphatic Aussie victory – so I’ll be contrary and predict an England win. But if I were putting a bet on it would be a rain-affected draw.
Oscar – I think that Australia are the stronger team both on paper, however I do think if England bat first in any match and score 400+ it allows the bowlers to create pressure and Australia’s middle order is slightly suspect for me.  Voges and Marsh remind me of Marcus North, good players but not frightening, and if Clarke continues to score 30 and then get out we can win matches.  The problem is if Australia bat first and do the same thing I think the pressure will get to us more.  I do think that the series is evenly balanced in that a coin toss may decides the destination of the Ashes (especially if we get more flat pitches).
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.
Rooto – I feel that England’s chances will depend on the performance of the pitch. We have seen that Australia have brought out their best game, and can take 20 wickets inside 2 days of bowling. England will need some assistance to do the same, so (assuming not more than 1 day lost to weather), if it’s flat, it could be a similar style of result to Lord’s – not necessarily of the same magnitude – but if it’s spicy then we have a puncher’s chance, and the match will definitely be short enough to reach a finish.
Poetry Corner from The Bogfather

We don’t do close anymore

As the results since ’06 show*

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…

5. Chris Rogers would be a great loss to the Australian batting line-up, wouldn’t it? Do you think it might potentially cost them dear?
Colonel – Yes and maybe. But then again in the medium term Australia will have to move on from Rogers, so why not now? Many England supporters were delighted to see the back of Harris, Haddin and Watson – but then look at how well Hazlewood, Nevill and Mitch Marsh have done. Shaun Marsh is unlikely to match up to Rogers’ runs, but I think the injection of younger players into their side, even though enforced by injury, are actually working in the tourist’s favour. A few fresh faced Pikes in place of seasoned soldiers like Corporal Jones, Frazer and Godfrey is bringing Dad’s Army renewed energy.
Oscar -Ireally like Rogers, he is a perfect counterpoint to Warner (who knew a dasher and someone solid as an opening combination would put pressure on the opposition??).

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…….

Rooto – Warner’s been surprisingly quiet so far. Rogers’ form has put him in the role of junior opener. He was warming up at Lord’s, though, and if he becomes senior partner to Shaun Marsh, then this could be a big influence on the match. Aus would miss Rogers, but there could be compensations. Boom!
Poetry Corner from The Bogfather –

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…

So, there you have it. TLG’s excellent match preview, an Ashes Panel, and tomorrow, weather permitting, Act 3 in the 2015 Ashes.

27 thoughts on “Ashes Panel #008 – Jonny Be Good, Chris Be Well

  1. Arron Wright Jul 28, 2015 / 9:07 pm

    Riveting conversation between Dave Tickner and Thomas Roper on Twitter this evening.

    Honestly, if I were on the other side of the issue they’re discussing, I’d be so embarrassed by my shrivelled excuse for a soul that I’d give up following cricket and become a Moonie.


    • LordCanisLupus Jul 28, 2015 / 9:11 pm

      I knew someone would say that his tribute to a mentor would be “self-serving” and “look at me”. I knew someone would.

      You know what, Arron?

      No. I’ll moderate myself. He used to follow me, I think. No idea at what point (if he did) unfollow me, but coming from a man who has a Pittsburgh Steelers helmet as his motif, maybe he should compare the heinous crimes KP committed with the QB of his team for the last decade. He’s not called Rapistberger for being a lovely chap.


      • Arron Wright Jul 28, 2015 / 9:31 pm

        I’d just completed a fairly reasonable and civilised conversation with DDB as well… and then I read that and all my faith in humanity evaporated once again. Genuinely can’t get my head round how Tickner’s (and our) view is now iconoclastic while sentiments not a million miles from Roper’s have been legitimised by the mainstream media and ECB TV. It’s every bit as horrific a situation as some of us predicted it would be last year. Unfortunately you can’t just “[moderated by consent] these people”, because they have taken their cue from a bunch of self-satisfied propagandists who retain their positions of influence.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Mark Jul 28, 2015 / 11:15 pm

      They can’t help themselves. Just the mere sound of his voice drives them insane.

      I knew they would not be able to contain themselves. But I’m sure they are very, very nice people. (not)


  2. paulewart Jul 28, 2015 / 9:50 pm

    The words, Stalin, show trial and Kafkaesqe spring to mind. He can’t win, if he’d said nothing he’d have been charged with failing to pay respects to his mentor. Here’s a play what I wrote on the matter: Waiting for Kevin.


  3. SimonH Jul 28, 2015 / 10:08 pm

    From Selvey’s match preview:

    “Finn’s traumas have been well documented, with blame apportioned where it should not have been”.

    Somehow I don’t think he means Graeme Smith…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Jul 28, 2015 / 10:11 pm

      This is getting silly now. He’s your mate Selfey. We get it. He’s gone now. He can’t hear you. He won’t hurt you. He’s in Melbourne now.


    • paulewart Jul 28, 2015 / 10:55 pm

      It was all KP’s fault.


      • LordCanisLupus Jul 28, 2015 / 10:57 pm

        He texted Smith to tell him to complain about Finn kicking the stumps. All makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

      • paulewart Jul 28, 2015 / 11:04 pm

        So Doosgate was actually Finngate?


      • paulewart Jul 29, 2015 / 6:15 am

        So you are Deep Throat after all.


      • Mark Jul 29, 2015 / 6:52 am

        For me Finns problems can be put down to Strauss and Flowers obsession with ‘bowling dry.’

        Taking wickets was relegated in importance to economy. Accuracy became the only thing they cared about, and more important than raw pace. Maybe understandable in ODI cricket, but test match cricket is about taking wickets.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. paulewart Jul 28, 2015 / 10:40 pm

    I see Selvey’s defending the indefensible again, his ‘dear friend’ David Saker:

    This is pricless:

    ‘Finn’s traumas have been well documented, with blame apportioned where it should not have been, and there is no evidence to suggest that he is close to the pace he generated from a shortened (not short) run in New Zealand two years ago. But he does have a wicket-taking knack, if an expensive one at times, with a Test strike rate of under 50 balls per wicket’

    Noe the failure to reference Finn’s form before and after the change.

    He’s clearly on a mission to defend the Director too:

    Helpful pitches, used properly, can be a great leveller and England really do need that help. This may be a big toss, though.

    He really is a craven piece of work. .


  5. man in a barrel Jul 28, 2015 / 11:14 pm

    Apologies if I am intruding on a private conversation but I have no idea what these remarks mean


  6. man in a barrel Jul 28, 2015 / 11:38 pm

    Nice answers but I am sorry you did not ask about the kind of pitch. Remember that Warks owe about 30 million for their rebuilding and new stands. So they need 600 k to cover interest. What would your groundsman serve up?


  7. man in a barrel Jul 28, 2015 / 11:45 pm

    Sorry I should organise my thoughts before posting. Warks need 600k net profit. So receipts from the turnstiles , bar, food etc less staff costs. Don’t bank on a green top. Lords is the only ground who could afford it.


  8. Philip Chapman Jul 29, 2015 / 7:23 am


    You talk about a dasher and a blocker being a successful opening partnership. 

    I thought about this and then went. No you are right look at what total failures the following combinations were..

    Sehwag and Gambir were or Hayden and Langer, or Trescothic and Strauss, or Slater and Taylor, or Haynes and Grenidge. Not sure who opened ahead of Bradman in the Australian unbeatable team, but I bet they just looked to bat time and not score for long periods of time…

    Yup you are right Cook and Hales would never work.. 


    Incidentally I may have to declare my man love for Sehwag, unquestionably my favourite player if all time. totally bonkers and totally brilliant. The ultimate see ball hit ball player who redefined opening as Gilchrist did for the role of keeper. 


    • paulewart Jul 29, 2015 / 9:27 am

      It seems to me that the way Test Cricket is going an ideal opening pair is a dasher and er…a dasher. Once again England are behind the curve.


    • OscarDaBosca Jul 29, 2015 / 9:38 am

      A dasher and a blocker requires a good number 3 for those occasions where it goes wrong, but we have missed tres for 10 years. Fletcher would have picked Hales on his character a year ago

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Arron Wright Jul 29, 2015 / 7:31 am

    I’m delighted to see how Lovejoy thinks:

    Because it reminds me of this:

    “I was once dragged onto Soccer AM by some mates. We were ‘fans of the week’, and apparently we were only going on to wind Lovejoy up.
    In the bar after the show, one of our group approached Lovejoy and asked him at what point he had switched allegiance from Watford (who he apparently used to support) to Chelsea.

    His reply, and I quote, was delightful: “Shut the f**k up, you c**t.””

    (Comment below the original ‘No Love No Joy’ review)


    • Mark Jul 29, 2015 / 8:00 am

      Arron what are you suggesting, that he can dish it out, but can’t take it?

      Surely not.

      Liked by 1 person

    • paulewart Jul 29, 2015 / 9:28 am

      Swann was a great cricketer but he’s a humourless, witless twat. Goughie had his number.


  10. OscarDaBosca Jul 29, 2015 / 1:24 pm

    Yep, the jinx on Anderson worked. Sitting in the Eric Hollies stand, Australia 84-5, and we have had an attacking field since the start.


  11. Sean B Jul 29, 2015 / 1:45 pm

    Dear Jimmy,

    Sorry I ever doubted you.



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