A bit busy this week and travelling the country, so the posts will be much briefer than normal. I’ll try and get reflections on the play up as and when I can at the end of each day, but it might not be so detailed, or indeed so argumentative! Thursday is the day that will represent the biggest challenge, so bear with me.
As for this forthcoming Test, I’ve got to confess, I haven’t got a clue. This series has been thoroughly ridiculous and making predictions is guaranteed to leave egg on faces. You would think that England have the upper hand, and you would think that Australia are showing signs of distress. But given the Lords hammering they dished out, that’s a dangerous belief to hold.
Of the items of side interest, Michael Clarke’s form is a concern for Australia, but it so often tends to be the case that the moment the media notice is just about the time a huge century is about to be delivered. He’s clearly more than got the class to do it.
For England, it’s about how they cope with the absence of Anderson. Broad looks more than capable of stepping up, the expectation is that if fit Wood will return, and he has made a decent enough start to his career, while Finn will be looking to show his performance in Birmingham wasn’t a one off. The assumption is that the Trent Bridge pitch will offer something to the seamers, but previous pitches there have been dreadfully slow and low, not just two years ago. For the sake of the game, let’s hope it’s not that.
The batting line ups of both teams looks as brittle as ever, so we arrive into the match having no real idea what is going to happen. And actually, that’s a very good thing, because sport is always at its best when there is uncertainty, even if that uncertainty here is based on the flawed teams rather than excellence in both parties.
So having gone through all that, and having thought deeply….we’re no closer to having any idea what will happen. Probably a tie.
UPDATE FROM LCL – Do go over to The Full Toss and listen to James Morgan’s interview with Jarrod Kimber if you haven’t already done so, and not just because our humble little blog gets a mention (oh well, just because it gets a mention). Seriously, very interesting stuff, and well done to James for getting Jarrod to speak to you on all things blogging and film making.
Good grief, one too busy another too billious, what is going on. I’ve tweeted Mike Selvey to ask for advice on ‘good excuses’. What I want to know is do they do custard donuts at Trent Bridge?
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Hoult says Wood is looking like he’ll be fit enough to play – and the injection is apparently for an ongoing issue, not a recent injury.
Jayawardene is being lined up as a “batting consultant” for the UAE series – quality batsman, lots of character and strong in sub-continent conditions. Could be a good sign…
Unfortunately, Mahela only averaged 29 in the UAE!
I think that’s more about the slump towards the end of his career than a lack of understanding of the conditions. Most of his UAE games came during his big slump (2011-2013). In 2014 when back on form he scored well in games in the UAE.
Trent Bridge: England need to be all-out for 3-1. Most important cricket match of at least 7 England cricketers lives, I’d say. This feels like it’s gonna be a squeaky bum match to me.
Can’t see England getting much out of the Oval pitch to secure the Ashes so it’s gotta be full-on now. If it’s 2-2 I’d be backing the Aussies to close it out at the Oval.
I tend to agree with this. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Oval pitch which would suit this England bowling attack more than this Aussie attack.
Enjoyed that TLG. Nice to read an honest opinion, the kind we don’t often see in the MSM. They will still be blowing one way or the other and sprouting all kinds of hyperbole, about amazing Eng or shot to pieces Aus. Whereas, as you have clearly pointed out, it is impossible to predict, due to the fragility of both team’s line ups. One thing is for sure, it should be fun!
Been called a “joker” for linking to Cook’s woeful home record in Ashes Tests. Funny, because I was responding to another poster who said it would be a big blot on his record if he never made an Ashes century at home, and we’re in the middle of a home Ashes series. The life of a BTLer who can’t bear hagiography, eh?
LCL was right in his point of dispute with Jarrod Kimber yesterday. You have to challenge the narrative and those who shape and filter it, partly because that’s what creates people like scopey, who quote only the familiar stuff and never look beyond it. See also: KP fell out with every dressing room he’s been in.
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Hell’s bells, now someone else has waded in with all of Brearley’s other innings!
Can’t people read?
They, and I mean those who are anti what this blog, it’s predecessor and TFT are about, want nothing more than people who think like we do to bow down in abject surrender. To admit we are wrong. To seek nothing but unconditional support for England, and that any questioning be akin to high treason. That this is how the ECB wants its customers to think is a mere happy coincidence.
You know, I understand blind fandom. I was with my football team. Made excuses for its supporters, some of them, and found out what happens when you do question their sacred cows. Blind obedience only was tolerated by some.
It’s getting particularly nasty and will only get worse if we win the Ashes. At that point I might review what we do with this blog after that.
There’s a long introspective post coming. I’ve not enjoyed the last few weeks. For done throwing shit in my direction ( and others) to claim their victims has enraged me. A mild post with madness references and defence of Maxie was seized on in a twitter exchange that I just restrained myself from barging in on. It does get to me.
Keep the fight going Arron. Your indefatigable nature does you credit. Me? If I keep banging my head against a brick wall, I think it starts to do permanent damage.
As Springsteen once proclaimed – Blind faith in your leaders in (2015) will get you killed”
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Seems to me the Guardian is in decline at both ends, both ATL and BTL. I pay less attention now because it just annoys me more often than not, and that’s not what I want from cricket. I seems to be able to read Vic Marks without getting irritated, but otherwise…
I wonder if it’s driven by events, England has just gone through the trauma of Ashes 0-5/The Collapse of the Flower Regime, Giles Clarke, Cook as captain and the KP business, all which poisoned the well. Maybe if events were a bit less controversial, the tone would be different.
But it’s a shame that controversial events can’t be dealt with intelligently.
The headline for example about Broad targetting Clarke is just peurile. Everyone targets everyone, what are they on about? Is there anyone who isn’t targetted? The Guardian is responsible for some of the tone, through it’s headline and ATL writing. Similarly with Bull’s piece on the weekend which engaged me a bit about Clarke/past it/team splits etc. The stuff of tabloids.
Engaged – or enraged?
I can’t be bothered with BTL at the Guardian anymore, I haven’t commented since before the start of the first Test.
It’s polluted (above ATL and BTL) with too many trolls and authoritarians for my taste now and the one eyed parochialism from both sides leaves me cold.
I can’t for the life of me Dmitri understand why you expose yourself to the mindlessness of twitter, what a waste of time that you could be using to do something useful like extracting lint from your navel or cleaning under your fingernails.
We get around half our hits via twitter. Usually. But I admit, it’s dangerous at times.
There has been a lot more change in English cricket over the last year than the pod people would like to admit. They think they won, and we lost because KP is gone and darling Alasdair is still captain. For many of these morons KP was the only issue that mattered. They would rather roast their own grand parents on spits than have him back in the team.
But Cook lost the ODI captaincy ,and in my opinion has been given a giant kick up the arse. All this “new brand of cricket” stuff, and thanking the fans for their support didn’t come out of Mike Selveys dreary columns or The anyalsits ravings. We said Downton was not fit for purpose, and he’s gone. We said Peter Moores was the wrong coach. He’s gone as well. The obsession with laptops and theory seems to have been toned down as well. (Most of these things would not have happened without some sort of rebellion. We provided it when the Pringles and Selveys were too close to the ECB to point out the problems.
A certain well know player didn’t even know what the cost of a ticket was. And was shocked when he was told how much. The ECB were never going to admit they got a whole lot wrong. The appointment of Strauss was an admission things needed to change, even if it was going to be done by another insider and company man. That is the England elite all over.
As a very small minority we forght an excellent rear guard effort. Even though many didn’t agree with us over KP they came to see a whole lot that was wrong with English cricket. We can congratulate ourselves on what we have achieved. because non of it would have happened if was left to the fawning cricket media.
I have a 3000 word plus post that covers a lot of this, Mark. Reviewing it and may not put it out. But probably will.
Not in the best cheer at the moment.
We have Friday afternoons off at work and I go for long walks. So I missed the close of the Test last week – I prefer my iPod to an England victory charge, thanks. Sometime after 7pm, I was in the car listening to the review on Radio 5 and I could have sworn Alastair Cook praised “Stuart” and “Steven” for their bowling. I’ve (best Mike Smash voice) quite literally never heard him use their first names in a post-match interview before.
Definitely not a PR move, though. That would be vulgar.
I caught a snippet of the ashes roadshow v on 5 live last night with lovejoy on usual form. They’d brought Allan Lamb along who in the one part I heard confused Abdul razzaq with Adil Rashid. Hey. Who cares? He played 20 years ago. He must know more than lay people.
I posted this yesterday:
I still read and care about The Guardian because it used to be a good paper with a tolerant and informed readership. The current lot see player participation in The World Series and the IPL as morally equivalent to the ‘rebel tours’ of South Africa. A position that is both morally repugnant and, alas, typifies the amnesiac, narcissistic current readership. The last bastion of decency has been breached.
The key word, and one I should always remember is ‘paper’. Of course newspapers are a thing of the past, it’s all about digital commerce.
That’s an excellent podcast with Kimber on TFT. I don’t agree with him that this site shouldn’t criticise the media, that’s the role it has chosen to play, and “media watch” is a long-standing and honourable profession. But that aside, I was impressed by Kimbers articulacy and energy, I’ve never heard him like that before. He barely paused for breath for one hour, and all good points.
Given his commenst about continuing the fight now the film is done, will be interesting to see where he goes next with this. If I understood correctly, I think he said he has effectively disqualified himself from any role inside cricket by making DOAG, no one would have him.
I forgot to add earlier, aside from marks, I don’t mind Ronay either. I know he’s just the court jester, but he still has insight into the game, and generally doesn’t deal just in the dominant cliche of the day.
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By the way Fred it’s very good to see you here. The thing that I do miss in eschewing BTL at the Guardian is the interaction I enjoyed with the more balanced and articulate commenter’s on the site.
Ah, scopey got back to me. Wonderful:
“It’s still meddling however much self-indulgent verbosity you throw my way.
As someone who went to a few history lectures (well done by the way), you should know that you should look at the bigger picture.
But i’ll give you that, he is low on your list of with the strange criteria of: Opening Batsmen, who has played over five times, in home tests, against the aussies. And yes it is a blot, minuscule at best, but yes a tiny, tiny blot.
Whilst, i’ve got you:
How does he perform on a tuesday in the 2nd innings of a test in the last two weeks of july and first two weeks of August?”
Goodness me those criteria are strange, aren’t they? I really should know better and stop being so arcane.
Fact to remember: by the end of this series, Cook will have played over a quarter of his Tests against Australia. Thus far he has failed to reach his overall average in four out of five series and is currently on course to do the same again.
The answer to his question is. .. did he bat on Tuesday v India last year?
Opening a home test against Australia, yes what an obscure thing to look at! Especially when evaluating an English opener during the Ashes.
Its the tone of his comment I find wearying. Offering critique, even if its robust, to the article is one thing, but those who feels they have to police the blog are just tedious.
Ian, thanks for your comment. Yes there are still a few good commenters there, you just have to wade through the dross to get there. I’ve noticed your absence.
The same happened in 2014 when I did Flower’s entire Win/Loss/Draw record in Tests and found it was an almost perfect match for Fletcher/Moores 2003-08, with the split either side of the 2005 Ashes/2011 India series being almost exactly the same as well. People simply not willing to accept it, or accusing me of “stat meddling”, when I set out only to show that Flower’s overall period in charge was not the *unprecedented* success it was made out to be, in terms of Test cricket, and pretty much conclusively proved it.
It’s simply not stats meddling to compare an entire home Ashes career as an opener to others. I’m the first to shout stat mining but it isn’t. At all. It’s 13 tests as opener.
Sense is out. We’re in cult time.
“Offering critique, even if its robust, to the article is one thing, but those who feel they have to police the blog are just tedious.”
Oh, Fred, this, a thousand times!
I simply fail to see the point of going onto a comment thread just to criticise and demean other posters, but there are, it seems, many for whom this is the main aim of the activity. And if there isn’t anybody there to disagree with, they’ll simply invent them.
And of course people who disagree with them are ‘spoiling the atmosphere BTL’.
It is a shame, cricket threads at the Guardian used to be fun, but there are now significantly fewer regular commenters and some of those are very busy trying to make it a place where only their own views are represented.
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Kimber is dead wrong when he says this site should not criticise the media.
The media have brought it on themselves because they acted as the ECBs PR department. I don’t mind people having different opinions but the media, with a few exceptions trotted out just one view. It was the wrong view, and it was the ECB line.
It never ceases to amaze me how thin skinned journalists are. They dish it out to all kinds of people, and professions, but get very upset when they are put on the spot. What Dmitri and TFT did was provide an alternative platform for those that didn’t drink the MSM cool aide. (Still waiting for Selvey to tell us all those things he claimed he knew but couldn’t tell us.)
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it’s a form of bullying, to argue with a person because of some perceived characteristic, rather then because of what they said. There’s a few bullies there.
My discussion with Palfreyman on the weekend, who I generally find interesting, came down to he liked Bull so took any criticism as an attack on his friend. It took a few exchanges for this to come out. Not worth pursuing.
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Oh look, a new Selvey is up, off his long run this time. Quoting Smith out of context, Australia in “disarray”, all the pressure on Australia, Australia selected to win while England in development etc; all the old favorites are there. Not one of his best but it’s up there.
For a sensible reflection on Clarke see Brettig on cricinfo today, but then he’s not writing to an agenda.
Reply to Mark about Kimber and journalists:
This was the one part of the interview I strongly disagreed with. Maybe it’s a generational thing – Kimber is perhaps more of a generation who look first at blogs and Youtube whereas those of us of a slightly older vintage tended to look at the traditional media outlets first (although the last 18 months has been a wonderful cure of that!). Perhaps it is also a national thing – those of us in Britain know how much this country is dominated by a handful of media outlets. That may be gradually changing but the last survey I saw of website usage in the UK was still dominated by the websites of the traditional media (e.g. BBC, Guardian, Mail etc).
I also thought Kimber was too understanding of the MSM and their toadying to the cricket authorities. FFS it’s a game and these are cricket administrators – not states with WMD. The cricket authorities need the media as much as the media need them. They’ll threaten the loss of insider status but it’s a bluff – they’ll soon come back as they’ll want to get their side of the story out.
Look at the DT. They’ve been the most critical of the ECB – are their cricket pages empty? Does no-one now talk to Nick Hoult or Scyld Berry?
Dmitri, I hope you’re not getting to down about idiots on twitter (a form of social media I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole). You’ve created a wonderful alternative community for the more discerning thinkers, inadequate exiles, homeless hobos, bullied and banished from The Guardian’s increasingly hostile,jingoistic and dare I say, in a laboured attempt to sustain the home/less metaphor, provincial commentators, but above and below the line. Mark’s right, things have changed and sites such as this and The Full Toss have hastened said change whilst also providing a cathartic space for more critically engaged thinkers.
The posts below attest to the wonderful environment you’ve created: you no longer have to go to war alone, nor do you have to constantly engage in snipe and countersnipe with idiots and sycophantic establishment types. They were wrong then, they’re still wrong, but they’ll never admit it. And you know what, on good days that doesn’t matter. What matters is that things have changed. You know you were right and we know you were right. It’s better to live on your feet than die on your knees.
Finn. It clearly was Saker’s fault wasn’t it? Because Selvey has confirmed that Saker was behind the shortened run up having nagged him for 2 years :
Finn puts the genesis of his previous problems down to the shortened run-up that was first tested in the winter of 2013, the intention of which was to counter the habit he had developed of knocking a leg into the stumps at the non-striker’s end that even led to a change in laws of the game.
From there things unravelled, with Finn admitting “a few calamitous decisions” were made along the way, and by the time the Ashes tour to Australia came round, he had lost confidence in his action while searching for “a golden nugget of information” that would remedy things – before being sent home by the then one-day coach Ashley Giles.
Should David Saker, the former England bowling coach, be blamed for this initial spot of tinkering? “It’s not his fault,” Finn replies.
Finn’s a class act.
It’s Ali Martin’s article. MS would not even ask that question.
I know. His good friend David could do no wrong. It was the players.
Finn obviously came up with the idea of visualizing rather than bowling, oh yes.
So, I predicted 3-1 to the Aussies, time to think a bit about what I got wrong.
– I expected a rain draw – if the Aussies were to win 3-2, I think that’s not so far away from my prediction. So, I’m not yet all wrong.
– That said, I honestly didn’t think England would look like winning 2 Tests, let alone look as plausible a shot to win the series.
I think my key miscalculation is that home advantage has gotten more potent. Especially true of English conditions because fewer top overseas players come through county cricket. Players have less experience (other than the IPL) in different conditions. And the IPL isn’t really preparation for Test matches in English conditions. This is particularly true of the bowlers – and something that has changed since the past.
(And it’s not just about individuals, but about collective knowledge in the team.)
Of course, I’ve said all this before, but in a hot dry summer, our home advantage evaporates. (See that series against SA – or indeed Lords this time around…) Which is why I remain down on some of the team development decisions over the years…
I guess the question is, have England exceeded expectations or have Australia disappointed?
I do think we can write the first test off, to an extent, Australia were both undercooked and perhaps a little complacent, but what of the third?
Test series are increasingly defined by sessions rather than days: has this been a postmodern series par excellence? Defined by explosive sessions?
Or are the two teams just much closer then assumed? They both seem remarkably fragile.
Of course, the answers to the above are less binary than the questions, but I really expected to be blown away by the Aussie bowlers. I thought they’d be the difference. It turns out that the English bowlers have been the difference thus far.
I think these two teams are quite evenly matched in English conditions. The pitches are just a bit slower than Aussie pitches which takes the edge off the Aussie bowlers and gives the England batsmen a chance of making some scores. And if they have a bit of seam movement it allows Englands bowlers to take 20 wickets for not that many.
Lords of course had no seam movement so Australia were able to score 550, and keep England in the field for 5 sessions. England then collapsed in a heap in little over an hour and the Test match was gone., to have any chance they needed to match the Aussie score and from 40/4 that wasn’t very likely.
People forget how many times Australia were in trouble in the 2014 series when quite often at 100/5 or so Haddin would bail them out time and again. I do think Andersons injury is a huge loss. People are just expecting Finn to carry on from Birmingham, but he has played little pressure cricket and it is not a given he won’t have a bad game.
Unless the weather intervenes I think Australia will win one of the two remaining test matches. Therefore England need to win one more as well. If Jimmy was fit, and with the Aussie batting in disarray I would fancy England to finish the job at Trent Bridge. But without him in the side Aus may be able to post scores that will put English batsman under pressure.
I’d rather Anderson was playing, espesh since his Trent Bridge record is good. But he does go missing some innings. Or – more fairly – not take any wickets. If Finn is the confidence player the MSM paint him as his confidence should carry him on. I’m happy with Wood or Plunkett, whoever’s fittest or – at least – likely to last the week. What i really want is some home ground magic from Broad. One of his blinders. And Stokes, too. He’s due a few wickets.
I’m rather more interested in seeing how well England bat. How they accrue even one more run than the Aussies will be crucial.
Yes, I see the Aussies winning one more Test but not necessarily at Trent Bridge. This is now the time for Andrew, Strauss[y]’s Team Waitrose to discover real consistency. Not that consistent inconsistency.
In case we have a load of nonsense about the toss again during this match, recent history shows the toss gives no great advantage at TB.
In the last ten Tests (going back to NZ in 2004), the team winning the toss won five matches, lost four and drew one.
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Joe Root’s batting average by match result:
That’s the fourth highest average in Wins in Test history (min. 1000 runs):
Kiss of death:
He could have written the same thing about himslef last year.
“I feel like a big score is round the corner, I’m a fighter.”
He’s a lover and a fighter……..
Don’t we all just love him…
Heartily sick of the media focus on Clarke – despite Clarke’s up beat news conference, this surely is bullying by the British press. Reminds me of how they challenged Alastair Cook over the last two years regarding his form and captaincy…….. vile is not an inappropriate word for them.
Selveys latest (which Fred mentioned above) is exactly what you would expect from The ECB/Team England. It’s what a team would say on the eve of a big game. Trying to heap pressure on the opposition, and portraying your team as the under dogs. It’s tub thumping partisan stuff, and Selvey is entitled to write what ever he wants. But he can’t be a tub thumper and ECB stooge and at the same time then be taken seriously as a journalist.
If Selvey worked for The Mail or The Sun you could understand it. Why The Guardian wants a tub thumper is slightly baffling, but there you go. I would prefer a bit more nuance, and intellect from a journalist than just regurgitated talking points. But hey ho, I’m in a minority.
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Selvey was furious that Clarke (and a few others) pissed on the legacy of his mates. It’s as simple as that.
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Oh yes, you can taste the bitterness!
Quite possibly, though I think his mates rather pissed all over themselves, the players and the supporters. The players, of course, just pissed on the pitch.
To be fair, he does have a dig at Cook in the last paragraph.
Got to disagree with you on this one, Zeph. Selvey’s criticism of Cook is that he is too attacking, too bold, too self-sacrificing, too handsome (okay I might have made the last one up). Clarke, on the other hand, is accused of ‘running for cover’. In other words, he’s a coward. Selvey has also recently said Clarke made runs at No.5 behind better players. In other words, he rode to success on the back of others and isn’t really that good.
The accusation of cowardice is loathsome. Clarke made 161* against SA with a broken shoulder. Does Selvey ever acknowledge that happened? Does he even know it happened? After all, England weren’t playing and you can’t expect a senior cricket correspondent to be following series between other teams. I can’t think of one reference Selvey has made to anything that happened in that SA v A series (one of my favourites of recent years) in all his writing since then – and for my sins I have read most of it.
I’ve defended Clarke a few times here recently and sound like some fan-boy. I’m not. I’ve argued before he isn’t as good a player of spin as some argue. I criticised his captaincy at Edgbaston – and previously when he deserved it (I criticised his captaincy at PE during the SA series which was one of the few times I’ve had a reply from wctt agreeing with me).
I expect England’s sledgers to have a go at Clarke if he drops to No.5. Fair enough. Selvey articles are like reading England’s sledging typed up into long sentences.
I’m with you Simon. A personal view is that anyone who can look at two Clarkes and find more bile for Michael than Giles is f***ing warped.
A gem from wctt
‘I see the Great Traitor has done his bit for his mate Warne and the Australians by looking to undermine Lyth further: and, as usual the Guardian gives him some cheap publicity (or more likely come back Kevin fans we miss the advertising revenue you bring). ‘Lyth looks like getting out every ball’ – like the Traitor has seen every ball – though it might explain why the team he captained ended up in the bottom two of the CPL.
Come on Adam!’
Last 3 words might be OK
More spiteful Guardian spin. How does a Paddy Power blog merit this headline, and where’s the context?
A ghosted blog, presumably, though the advice he offers Lyth sounds pretty KPish.
But it provided a headline.
Perhaps, rather like the symbol formerly known as Prince, he should just change his name to Clickbait.
The point is that he offers positive advice, that’s totally lost in the headline. Quelle surprise.