The Ashes: Fifth Test preview

And so, barely moments after the home international Test summer began, it’s nearly over.  If anyone had said that the Oval Test will begin with nothing riding on it, it would hardly have been a surprise.  That it is a dead rubber because England have already won, well that is more of a surprise.

And as a result, when the dust settled on the hammering handed out at Trent Bridge, the focus has been more on Australia than an England team justifiably enjoying the moment.  It has been a peculiar and somewhat subdued build up.

Australia themselves will be saying goodbye to at least two players, in Rogers and Clarke.  In reality, even though they are unlikely to play, Haddin and Watson can be added to that list, for it is hard to see how they will be selected again.  There’s every chance Voges is playing his final match as well, while Shaun Marsh must be a considerable doubt for the future given he’s failed to take his chance at the highest level.  Since Australia lost Ryan Harris before the series began, it amounts to a quite extraordinary end of an era for the Australian team.  Of the squad of seventeen first chosen for the series, you can make a case that seven or even eight (depending on what future Fawad has) will be gone from the Test team by this time next week.

Moreover, Australia have lost little time in moving on, Smith has already been announced as the next captain, with Warner as his deputy – which is an interesting choice in itself given his brushes with authority over the last few years.  It could be the making of him.  Likewise, Smith has been talking about moving to number four in future, all of which suggests that Australia just want this over with and to move forward.

It’s a rather sad way for Clarke to finish.  The last real link to the great Australian team of the noughties, he is going out with a whimper rather than a bang, captaining a side who have already moved on, in a series already lost, with a team comprised of many who will saying their own farewells.  Sport can be a cruel business, and few get to time their departures perfectly.   As both player and captain, there’s a temptation to believe that Clarke is more honoured abroad than he is at home, and a warm reception when he walks out to bat for the final two times is guaranteed.  And thoroughly deserved.

For England, it is the chance to deliver four Test wins in a series against Australia for the first time since 1978, and in circumstances that few would have expected.  Given England’s inconsistency, and the end-of-era nature of the Australian team, it’s as hard to call as any of the previous Tests.  The series has been so unpredictable that it would be a brave person to make the call on what will happen this time.   Perhaps what most fans of both sides would like more than anything would be a close match.  There hasn’t been a truly close game between these sides since the Trent Bridge Test of 2013 – even the Oval last time which ended up tight was down to a contrivance more than genuine competition.  That Oval Test incidentally was only the third time since five Test series became the norm that the Oval Test was a dead rubber in England’s favour.  That this is the fourth instance one series later says a lot about recent series.

To that end, what does this say about England’s win?  It’s fourteen years since Australia won in England, and in that time England are 10-3 up in Tests.  Yet since England won that first series in years in 2005, England are 11-3 down in Australia.  Each side is being well beaten away from home, with few close matches, that has to be a concern.

For England, there seems little point in risking Anderson – there would have been little point even if the series was on the line – so the debate surrounds the question of the pitch and whether a second spinner is needed.  If so, then there is at least the possibility that Moeen could be moved up to open to create space for Adil Rashid.  If that is how England go, then Lyth too could be facing the chop as far as his Test career is concerned.  Lyth has hardly been a stellar success in this series, but then neither has his opening partner, one innings excepted.  It would be a sour note were England to continue to go through openers not called Cook at a rate of knots.  That is of course making the point before it even happens, and England may well retain Lyth to give him the chance to cement his place.  A score of any sort would probably do that.

Of course, if Lyth does keep his place, then it seems hard to see how Rashid could be given the nod.  Wood is troubled by his ankle, but the indications are that Plunkett is favoured if he doesn’t make it.  There is of course no point selecting someone for the sake of it – that is what happened two years ago when Kerrigan and Woakes were called into the side and promptly discarded for the following series – more understandably in the case of Kerrigan, whose handling can still be questioned.  Yet with the series in the UAE coming up, Rashid will certainly be required.

In all, this is a subdued build up to the final Test match.  At the end of it, Alastair Cook will be presented with the urn, and all will be well with England cricket.  Of course, the reality is some way from that, the previous 18 months has created a schism amongst cricket lovers like little seen in living memory.  The win has papered over the cracks, but failed to resolve them.  The ECB have a big job on their hands to re-create love for England, but if they do intend to try and do so, then this is no bad platform on which to build.  It is now up to them.


77 thoughts on “The Ashes: Fifth Test preview

  1. hatmallet Aug 17, 2015 / 7:42 pm

    The Oval pitch will be nothing like what we’ll get in the UAE, so don’t agree with the idea some have suggesting of giving Rashid a trial game. Plus has Moeen ever opened in first class cricket?

    So I think we should stick with the same team. Anderson shouldn’t be risked.


  2. Nick Atkinson Aug 17, 2015 / 8:21 pm

    Ooh adverts. Exciting. I wonder if they’ve considered resting jos for 1 game to give rashid a warm up game. But I think they really want to win this one so same team with Liam for Woodstock as necessary. There is something exciting about Ali opening though


    • LordCanisLupus Aug 17, 2015 / 8:49 pm

      Any adverts that appear on this site are placed by WordPress as a quid pro quo for not charging us for using the platform.

      I understand they are not common!


      • Nick Atkinson Aug 17, 2015 / 10:03 pm

        I was tempted by a camera!


  3. wrongunatlongon Aug 17, 2015 / 10:28 pm

    Weird to think that Clarke has only won 2 Ashes series, whilst Bell has 5. Even with 7 hundreds against us, I don’t think we’ve ever seen him at his consistent best. His record against Safrica is frightening. Much smaller sample size, of course (14 Tests vs 34).


    • thelegglance Aug 17, 2015 / 11:37 pm

      Just off to bed so I’m not going to look it up, but he has a huge disparity between home and away form. And against England he has really struggled against Broad in latter times.


  4. BoerInAustria Aug 18, 2015 / 4:45 am

    Broad in the Guardian:

    “I think we went through a period as a team when we wouldn’t speak to any of our ex-players and it was like us versus them.This new open theory, started by Peter Moores and with Andrew Strauss carrying it on, has helped.”

    Dour Flower.


    • BoerInAustria Aug 18, 2015 / 7:58 am

      And I seein Cricinfo Broad was saying: “The message I got at the start of the summer was, we’ve got 16 Tests this year and we want to play all of those Test matches, we’ll have to manage you a bit through that,” he said. “I have a deep ambition to play in the 2019 World Cup, whether that means I have to play now, not necessarily, but I certainly want to play one-day cricket going forward.”

      I see Cook and Co wants the 4-1 “as a burning desire”.

      Would it not be wiser to rest Broad, Anderson and any other player with an injurie (Root – back?) as this is a “dead rubber”?

      England had an appaling management of injuries under Flower. Can this also be changed?


      • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 8:06 am

        I think it was KP who wrote that Flower was all about his own legacy. He really seems to have used the team as a substitute for a bat. Trouble is, human beings break in a different way from bats.


      • Jamie Aug 18, 2015 / 12:14 pm

        Zephirine – did anyone other than KP say something similar?


      • SimonH Aug 18, 2015 / 12:22 pm

        Steve Finn, only three days ago:

        “it is important that we don’t get ahead of ourselves. We have done that before when we got to No1 in the world. We started to think about legacies, looking too far ahead and I am not comfortable with that sort of thing”.


        • LordCanisLupus Aug 18, 2015 / 1:11 pm

          That’s you permanently on Flower’s shit list and another minor tick in the “book got it right” column.


          • LordCanisLupus Aug 18, 2015 / 1:15 pm

            And if I drew the conclusion that the use of the legacy word was a Flower thing then so do a lot of people. Of course, it’ll be denied if asked.


      • Jamie Aug 18, 2015 / 12:45 pm

        Seems a bit of a jump to assume Finn is referring to Flower focussing on his own legacy though rather than the team’s.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Aug 18, 2015 / 1:41 pm

        Jamie, I sort of agree I think he’s talking about the wider structure of the time, though Flower was rather central to it all. If I have a bit of a hobby horse I think that even if you took Flower away Andrew Strauss had a fair bit of a cross to bear in his last year or so. He led the team into the meltdown versus Pakistan, that of course is rarely ever spoken about. He also seemed to avoid scrutiny over his non-existant batting returns. I guess in retrospect our beloved media have been entirely consistent in the way they haev eulogised the captain.


    • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 8:30 am

      Yes, it’s a very balanced article and rightly credits NZ, Stokes and happenstance for some of England’s improvements.
      Though Barnes gives the ECB insufficient credit by suggesting that they accidentally found themselves bigging up Cook after sacking KP – it was clearly a deliberate PR campaign, with so many journalists describing him in exactly the same way within a few days of each other.

      Amongst the usual ‘cricketers drawing each other for charity’ efforts, I rather liked Hoggard characterising Cook as Buzz Lightyear.


      • hatmallet Aug 18, 2015 / 12:40 pm

        Read it a few days ago and thought similar. Unlike many other journalists, he’s spotted a lot of the absurdity of 2014 and good fortune of this summer’s revival that to us was obvious!


  5. Arron Wright Aug 18, 2015 / 7:43 am

    Never been less interested in the final Test of the summer.

    Never thought I’d say this, but bring on the ODIs so we can move on from the stomach-churning glorification of Alastair Cook, and he in turn can carry on with his campaign to credit everyone but Eoin Morgan for the post-World Cup transformation of English cricket.

    And for anyone who missed it yesterday, and/or anyone who still thinks we live in fantasy land when we talk of journalists getting wildly carried away with their cheerleading, look at the last few paragraphs of this:

    Then compare it to the BBC article which said that, in order to reach number one by the end of January, England need to beat Australia 4-1*, win two out of three Tests in the UAE**, hope India beat SA 2-1 or 3-1*** and finally beat SA 3-0 or 4-0 away****.

    *this has never happened at home
    **their result in 2012, with a world #1 side and no series defeats in three years, was 0-3
    ***SA haven’t lost away since 2006, which is also when they were last beaten by any side other than Australia
    ****they haven’t beaten SA away in 11 years; neither side has won three Tests against the other in one series since 1960; England last won more than two Tests in SA 102 years ago; and have only done so in a series of fewer than five Tests once… 120 years ago.

    England’s record in the 20 away Tests played since becoming world number one:

    W 4 L 11 D 5 (series: W 1 L 2 D 3)

    Record in their most recent away series against top eight opponents:

    W 5 L 12 D 7 (series W 1 L 2 D 4)



  6. SimonH Aug 18, 2015 / 8:23 am

    If memory serves me right, Masood was only selected because a bizarre combination of events (bowling action referral plus delayed visa) prevented Mohammed Hafeez playing.

    Here are the highlights again of what was a brilliant day’s Test cricket with four outstanding individual performances:


    • SimonH Aug 18, 2015 / 8:25 am

      Oh heck – this was meant to be on the Century Watch thread. Please delete.


  7. SimonH Aug 18, 2015 / 9:12 am

    Keeping Twitter amused for the last nine hours and counting:


    • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 11:38 am

      Was that from the Sky programme? Shane Warne: Living the Dream… It was a hoot. Warne is truly a man to whom good taste is a stranger, but interestingly his kids seemed to be entirely normal and nice – and somewhat scathing about Dad in a properly teenage manner.

      And it illustrated yet again the sheer tedium of being a modern celebrity now that fame equals having to pose for a selfie with every single person who recognises you.


  8. metatone Aug 18, 2015 / 9:39 am

    Stepping away from my visceral dislike of the foolish over-celebration the press are going to serve up, I think my perception of dead rubbers is coloured by years (in the 1990s particularly) of England winning dead rubbers and it having no meaning or impact on other results.

    As such, I’d really like it if Bayliss were to outline an actual philosophy on the balance between the short term and the long term in team selection. I might not agree with his philosophy, but I think it’d be a great step forward if they had one and told fans about it. At least then we’d have a prism to view selection through.

    For myself, I hew to being ruthless in prioritising the longer term. Every game where there is an opportunity to look at players needs to be taken. “Going for the win” is a waste when we already have the series. And we shouldn’t even be trying to make number 1 status in the rankings, instead we should be trying to build the best team and squad. I think every fan would take being able to beat anyone in world cricket over some statistical/scheduling rankings fluke. (The previous no.1 ranking looks increasingly like one of those to me.)

    We need to start using dead rubbers to rest players to extend their playing career. We have a terrible record on injury management. We also need to look at alternatives, so that selection when the pressure is on becomes less of a dice roll.


  9. Paul Aug 18, 2015 / 11:31 am

    any similarities with the manner in which australia are clearing the decks at the end of a disastrous series. I appreciate you don’t agree with the KP decision and don’t really want to get into that debate tbh. However, Australia are potentially removing players who they deem are not part of their international future – Watson, haddin etc. A longer term strategy of excluding those not part of their plans. Possibly handled much better than the ECB and without the high profile casualty in KP, or rather retirement rather than being pushed.


    • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 11:45 am

      The problem about KP was always that it was him in isolation being dispensed with (although other people had left because of injury/illness). If you get rid of several players at the same time it appears more fair, even if not to the players in question. Compare with axing Harmison and Hoggard together, arguably a mistake in the case of Hoggard but at least it didn’t seem to be wholly personal.


      • Paul Aug 18, 2015 / 11:59 am

        Carberry, Tremlett, Borthwick, Panesar, Rankin. Thats excluding those that retired and Prior who hung on for a couple of games because there was a fear we had no alternative (my interpretation only I appreciate)


      • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 12:13 pm

        But apart from Panesar, who had been in and out of the squad, those players weren’t established in the side.

        Imagine if both Prior and Pietersen had been dropped after that Ashes tour. Neither of them would have been happy, but it would have been demonstrably about established senior players making way for new blood and the supporters’ response would have been quite different.

        So yes, I think Australia are handling it much better – helped by Clarke who’s leading the way by jumping before pushed.


    • hatmallet Aug 18, 2015 / 12:45 pm

      My stance has always been that if England wanted to drop Pietersen from the team at the start of last summer, they were free to do so. Whether would have been the correct decision or not would have been debatable, but ultimately the selectors would have been within their right to not pick him.

      Australia haven’t held any investigations or meetings about one player. They haven’t imposed selection or non-selection upon the selectors. They haven’t ripped up any central contracts. They haven’t announced players will never be selected again. They haven’t written up documents of misdemeanours. They haven’t started absurd PR campaigns about any players.

      So it’s quite different in my opinion.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Aug 18, 2015 / 1:36 pm

        Exactly, I feel pretty similar too in if they had handled in that way there would have at least been some understanding that they were ridding the deck of players who were passed it and they could build for the future, but no they had to assert their (or Giles Clarke’s) authority and announce it as a significant part of their ‘revolution’ even though many of the same ideas were a broken record for the large part of 18 months that proceeded from it. The occurences of the bulk of that time have been strangely airbrushed in the last couple of weeks.


    • Mark Aug 18, 2015 / 12:51 pm

      He would know all about bowling coaches who have bad series.

      He has been covering for one for the last two years.


    • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 11:47 am

      Now really, don’t these slavering hysterical Moores acolytes realise that it is time to move on? He’s gone, live with it.


      • MM Aug 18, 2015 / 12:17 pm

        Has Mooresy got mucky photos on his laptop of all those now creeping up to his memory?

        The bloke was a cricket disaster, times two. Squared, even. Even if he was a great bloke in the dressing room environment area thingy. Even if he goes to bed in his Team Waitrose shellsuit. He. Was. Pants.

        Yes, FFS, live in the now – he’s gone.


      • MM Aug 18, 2015 / 12:19 pm

        Or is he on the emergency backburner for incarnation 3.0???


    • Arron Wright Aug 18, 2015 / 12:18 pm

      “If there’s a risk of him doing more damage and putting himself out for longer then, of course, England won’t play him.”

      Says MATT PRIOR.

      Of course, Matty. Of *course*.


      • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 1:18 pm

        ROFL. LMAO.


      • Arron Wright Aug 18, 2015 / 1:42 pm

        Like softlysoftly though, I genuinely think they believe it. Barely anyone outside social media/cricinfo challenges their narrative, most interviews are sponsored, most dissenting views are misrepresented or, at best, the articulate ones are conveniently conflated with the lunatics, numpties and fringe idiots. For instance, virtually everyone talked and still talks about The Book through the prism of “slagging off teammates” and never refer to the major issues raised – including injury management.

        This sort of assertion is a hysterical howler. It should be fish-in-a-barrel stuff, and would have been for a Martin Johnson. There are no Martin Johnsons in the MSM any more.

        So QED.


    • MM Aug 18, 2015 / 12:25 pm

      ‘but what Mooresy does do is build a strong team environment to promote a winning mentality’.

      Building to promote? Is that anywhere near to actually achieving?

      Words, just empty words that might sound useful when being job-interviewed by some other bullsh-t bingo merchants.


      • Mark Aug 18, 2015 / 1:03 pm

        There is so much hot air spouted about winning mentality, and strong team environment.

        Where was this winning mentality at Lords when they lost by 400 runs? Or was it due to the fact the pitch was flat, and didn’t offer any seam movement?

        It’s like all the guff spouted by Flower supporters. A lot of his success was because he had in Swann a bowler who could bowl out sides on flat pitches. But of course rather than admit that little fact they convince themselves it was all down to Flowers genuius preparation, and Strauss captaincy skills.

        A great bowler or a great batsman beats TRUST every time.


  10. SimonH Aug 18, 2015 / 4:03 pm

    I had a bit of a go at Dhawan for his batting in the second innings in Galle but it turns out he had a fractured hand and is missing the rest of the tour.


    • metatone Aug 18, 2015 / 6:04 pm

      Ouch. That’s rarer these days. Maybe he needs to change glove sponsor…


      • SimonH Aug 18, 2015 / 7:16 pm

        The injury happened when fielding so his gloves are okay!

        Interesting piece by Andrew McGlashan on Mark Wood’s fitness:

        1) He’s been playing on cortisone.
        2) He should have an operation – but they can’t fit one into the schedule.
        3) They’re thinking of tinkering with his action.

        Sound familiar?


      • Zephirine Aug 18, 2015 / 8:46 pm

        Leave Mark Wood (and his horse) alone, you England wreckers!!!

        I fear for Wood, he’s both physically fragile and eccentric and I’m not sure England can manage either of those, let alone both.

        Though apparently coming from Ashington and not drinking shows a certain strength of mind.


      • metatone Aug 19, 2015 / 8:04 am

        They are going to destroy Wood.
        It’s enough to make you weep.


  11. metatone Aug 19, 2015 / 8:06 am

    On the topic of pitches and Duke balls – there’s an article up about bowling plans for Dale Steyn against NZ.

    Putting aside the “it’s Dale Steyn, just bowl fast at them in the corridor and throw in the occasional bouncer” I think it’s interesting because it shows how on the kind of pitch they expect at Centurion they don’t have that many options.

    Steyn can move the ball as well as anyone in the world, but it seems they don’t expect enough movement to make the outswinger viable…


    • metatone Aug 19, 2015 / 8:09 am

      To be clear, SA have plenty of options enough to win the game, but I mean specifically that there were good balls bowled by England against NZ (and Australia) that got wickets but SA don’t think it’s worth Steyn trying at Centurion. Given how good Steyn is and how easy video footage is these days, I feel like it’s a little bit of proof of how different things are away from rainy England with a Duke…


  12. SimonH Aug 19, 2015 / 9:01 am

    Nasser rates the teams of 2005 and 2015:

    Guess who he rates equal with Vaughan and higher than both openers in 2005?

    Coming up next, Nasser compares the ‘Bodyline’ team team of 1932/33 with today:

    Douglas Jardine 8.5/10
    Not bad captain but not funky enough with his fields and lacked mental toughness.

    Herbert Sutcliffe 8/10
    Decent opener but hadn’t perfected the ‘leave alone’ outside off-stump

    Walter Hammond 8/10
    Could bat a bit but lacked a smile that could melt glaciers and his name isn’t easy to rhyme or scan in promotional songs.


    • Arron Wright Aug 19, 2015 / 9:29 am

      *goes nuclear*

      Like how Hoggard didn’t come into play until Trent Bridge, when he took the first wicket in three of the six Australian innings prior to that match, with a top score of 14 for the openers he got out. He didn’t bag many wickets in the first three games, true, but the ones he took were disproportionately top and middle order wickets.

      Anderson did considerably less than Hoggard until the first day at Edgbaston: gets one point more. Eff off. Why would he “walk into” that 2005 side now? Ahead of Hoggard, presumably. Johannesburg was ever so slightly more impressive than Grenada, in my humble “outside cricket” opinion.

      Mark Wood > Hoggard and Harmison even though he’s missed a game *and* did nothing at Lord’s. What did Harmison do in the game England lost in 2005, Nasser? Garbage.

      Why does Colly get one more point than Bell? Did none of Bell’s excellent catching matter, at all?

      As for Cook’s mark, I truly fucking despair. Get a high score of 96, average 31 against a woefully off-form side, and beat men who made two vital hundreds (ave 39), crucial tone-setting 90s and 60s (ave 43), and the first hundred of the series, setting up true England dominance for the first time (ave 34), all of it against one of the best of all sides.

      FFS, Nasser, what the *hell* happened?



      • d'Arthez Aug 19, 2015 / 12:20 pm

        It seems that part of Nasser’s argument is that, because Cook was cr*p in the last Ashes he deserves extra points now, for being slightly less cr*p. Yeah, brilliant argument: He is great because he was cr*p last time around. I suppose that makes me the world’s best chess player too, because I lost my next to last game, but won my last game.

        Hilarious that Nasser admits that Moeen is the second highest run scorer for England, and only gets a 6.5, just like Bell. Just like Bairstow. And only 2 points less than Cook. Is there a penalty for coming on the field with a beard or what?

        Does anyone even seriously think that this side could have beaten the SA side of 2012? I don’t think so, and I am certainly not alone in thinking that the Aussie side of 2005 was better than that SA side.

        If Nasser would do the same point scoring exercise for the 2005 Australia side and the 2015 side, the latter side would probably fall 30-odd points short.


    • SimonH Aug 19, 2015 / 12:01 pm

      Nasser Hussain rates the great strategists:

      Alastair Cook 11/10
      The greatest strategic genius known to humanity – and also an extremely modest chap easily embarrassed by excessive fawning. Only took 30+ Test matches to learn how to set a field or not bowl Jimmy Anderson in ten over spells. Possessed the enormous mental strength to overcome being compared to Ned Flanders in a book. Owns a farm and is enormously handsome which aren’t particularly relevant but I somehow can’t stop mentioning them.

      Carl von Clausewitz 8/10
      Sure he wrote ‘On War’ which is still being read a century after his death – but would he have had a silly mid-on for Steve Smith in Cardiff?

      Sun Tzu 7.5/10
      His ideas may still be around two and a half thousand years after his death. Didn’t win two home Ashes’ series though.

      Thucydides 7/10
      Another whose ideas have lived for two and a half thousand years.- but he’d have crumpled like a cheap suit and ran home crying to his momma if called a ‘weasel’ on Twitter.

      Liked by 1 person

    • SteveT Aug 19, 2015 / 2:38 pm

      WTF!!!!! Words fail me


    • Mark Aug 19, 2015 / 3:16 pm

      I guess if you take the Mail shilling, you have to sing the Mail tune.

      The Mail has been the sewer through which most of the ECBs sewage has been flushed out. And this is the ECBs jubilee, so maximum obedience is required.

      Ian Botham is often joking about Nassers tightness with money. Perhaps he feels he needs to keep on side with the Mail/ECB complex. If he really believes what he has written about Cook then Nasser has lost the plot. And is losing his reputation as fine critic.

      That’s the trouble with Cook. Those that side with him end up looking ludicrous, and pissing away their reputations. The idea he is a better batsman than the 2 openers in 2005 or a better captain than Vaughn is not even worth discussing. You just make yourself look foolish Nasser. But then England seem to like stupid people as fans at the moment. It helps flog the tacky merchandise.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. SimonH Aug 19, 2015 / 12:18 pm

    First dozen comments on this week’s ‘The Spin’ include DDB calling anyone who doesn’t think Cook is a decent man “lunatics” and “madmen” and someone being gratuitously offensive about Pietersen.

    The topic of the article itself invites some criticism of an aspect of Flower’s coaching. Is there any? Do you need to look?


    • Arron Wright Aug 19, 2015 / 12:37 pm

      The first fifteen include someone wondering aloud if this initiative might be, in part, political rather than wholly virtuous. I wonder whether he’ll be called a lunatic madman numpty Kevinista conspiracy theorist anti-Cook statsmeddling anti-England miserable impertinent fringe idiot disciple of Piers Morgan who’s part of a mob with a carefully orchestrated hate campaign.


      (PS: If this is a real change in mindset, can we look forward to FICJAM dismissing the evidence as part of an “elegant escape narrative”?)


      • LordCanisLupus Aug 19, 2015 / 1:02 pm

        I see Maxie raising the Fraser comments and putting a piece together and the usual suspects attack the messenger.

        Ah if they were only so vitriolic or argumentative when the team was stuffing up than they are against one blogger speaking his mind.

        An interesting juxtaposition as Ted might have said. Have a go at a fan, a lover of the game grown disenchanted and not stop to think why except “you’re wrong”.

        Still, I only read James is getting up there with “I bought Playboy for the articles” as Mr Morgan’s comment implies.

        I’ve not been around a lot because I don’t feel like writing at the moment, but have a long piece in train about an event last year. Hope to have it ready by the weekend.


      • SimonH Aug 19, 2015 / 3:08 pm



      • Arron Wright Aug 19, 2015 / 3:21 pm

        If ever you have cause to post “I Feel Love”, do you choose the Bronski Beat version?



  14. d'Arthez Aug 19, 2015 / 12:34 pm

    Anderson ruled out for the last Test, and Cook apparently has said that England will field an unchanged XI for the last Test, barring injuries.

    So no pressure whatsoever on the spinner(s) in the UAE …


  15. SimonH Aug 19, 2015 / 4:59 pm

    “Perhaps unlike other teams in the past – the 2005 side’s Ashes win was their pinnacle and what they built towards for two or three years – I genuinely believe this side has more ahead of it”.

    I’m not sure if this is ignorance or lack of charity – or a bit of both. Of course beating an all-time great team that hadn’t been beat for 18 years was their “pinnacle”. However where’s the acknowledgement of that team’s subsequent dreadful bad luck with injuries – Vaughan, Simon Jones, Giles and Trescothick were all quickly struck down when their ages suggest they should have had plenty of cricket left in them.

    As for building towards 2005 for “two or three years”, I picked a random Test two years before (the great Oval win in 2003) and only five players (Tres, Vaughan, Flintoff, Giles, Harmison) were playing. Strauss, Bell and Geraint Jones only came in one year before and of course Pietersen made his debut in 2005. Perhaps the desire to present everything as some masterpiece of long-term ECB planning is so ingrained that Cook can’t imagine it was any other way.

    I don’t think (I’ll admit I haven’t checked fully) the 2005 team had anyone aged 33 or over. This team has its No.3 batsman and strike bowler at that age (and no obvious replacement for the former). At least one player, Wood, has significant injury issues and there are some questions about others (Root’s back, Broad’s knee, Ali’s intercostals).

    Of course Cook is going to talk the current team up – but does he have to speak half-truths about 2005 to do it?


    • Mark Aug 19, 2015 / 6:07 pm

      This is why I fucking hate cook. And why I will always hate Cook. And why until he goes I will view England as a alien space ship that has landed and taken over my team.

      You are not worthy of even comparison with the 2005 side you simpleton. You have been building with Lego not real house bricks. Because you are an over indulged child King. You Talk shit, you captain like shit, and the sooner you piss of back to your father in laws farm the better.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Aug 19, 2015 / 10:14 pm

      Seriously. Can they stop this 2005 shit now? It’s embarrassing. The calibre of opponent….. good grief.


  16. SimonH Aug 19, 2015 / 5:46 pm

    Even by his standards, Selvey’s match preview is the most insufferable crock of ****.

    Forget the usual swipes at Rashid and Clarke – and another one at Hazlewood who he’s been having a go at on Twitter and he seems to have taken a real dislike to. That’s all old hat.

    Forget 96-deserved-a-hundred. That’s the voice of reason and moderation. We now have 45-worth-a-hundred.

    What comes after jumping the shark?


    • Arron Wright Aug 19, 2015 / 6:23 pm

      Anyone pointed out that Root’s innings at Trent Bridge was worth 393 using Selvey’s criteria?



      • Mark Aug 19, 2015 / 6:40 pm

        This has the potential to be the most embarrassing weekend ever for English cricket. And I’m not talking about what happens on the field. The English cricket media are about to make tits of themselves.

        Watch and laugh at how absurd and stage managed the whole Disney production becomes.


      • Arron Wright Aug 19, 2015 / 6:41 pm

        Typo: should be 303.


  17. Arron Wright Aug 19, 2015 / 6:05 pm

    He is an embarrassment, honestly. And Cook made 43 anyway.


    • Mark Aug 19, 2015 / 6:13 pm

      Fuck the pair of them. Selvey is fake journalist to go with Cook the fake captain. Drawn with New Zealand, drawn with the WI, lost to Sri Lanka and thrashed by Australia. That is Cooks so called achievememt this last year. Oh and two home wins against weak touring teams.

      And Selvey holds this up as something special. Selvey is an idiot.


  18. SimonH Aug 19, 2015 / 8:51 pm

    Oh hurrah, Nick Knight has a new Cook stat:

    “After the victory at Trent Bridge, Alastair Cook became the first England player to participate in 50 Test match victories”.

    Here’s the proof:

    Although put it proportionally and it looks a bit different:

    As it does if you consider all countries:


    • d'Arthez Aug 19, 2015 / 9:22 pm

      Or when you just look at captains:

      Notice that a certain Vaughan (P51, W26; L11 D14) had won 9 Tests more, while losing exactly as many as Cook has (37, W17: L11 D10). Presumably that means he was a useless captain, right Nasser?

      In terms of number of wins, Cook ranks fifth for England. In terms of W/L ratio (with a minimum of 10 Tests captained), Cook stands in heroic 12th spot for England.


    • Arron Wright Aug 19, 2015 / 10:25 pm

      Did you see Gilchrist’s W/L ratio in there? It’s literally 1.7 higher than everyone else’s, even those on his own side in the same era!


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