Death of an Ashes Panel – The Final Goodbye To A Much Loved Collective

Not, no more....
The Last Time We See This…..

The final panel of the Ashes summer is upon us. My thanks, as always, to all of you for your help, both in writing the answers, and in commenting on the posts. The Ashes already seem to be quite distant in the rear-view mirror, as I think many have realised after the warm afterglow they felt in victory, that both the Oval performance and the future tours in front of us are a little bit concerning.

But that’s for the commenters here, and for me and TLG later, so let’s get this final panel on the road.

Six questions, splendid respondents.

  • Our man from the land of unpronouncable names, Paul Ewart (PE)
  • Our man in a land far far away, via Barbados, Colonel Blimp (AKA David Oram) (CB)
  • Our man in somwhere I’ve not determined, but a CricketJon he is (CJ)
  • Our man in Oz, our man who supports that lot in the East of London, Martin Payne (MP)
  • Our man in Yorkshire, so listen to what he says, Metatone (Meta)
  • Our man in Birmingham, and if he isn’t, he’s a liar, AndyinBrum (AiB)
  • Our man who had been abroad, Oscar de Bosca, who wrote his stuff in the air (OdB)

So, with apologies for the tardiness, here we go.

1. There’s been a noticeable divide – those that have said “stuff it, it’s the Ashes” and those who’ve gone “It was a woeful series”? What’s your view? Is it an either / or?

ODB – It’s the Ashes, beating Australians at anything is great so I am happy to win.  However there is a big but (I like big butts and I cannot lie) the series was terrible, as both an advert for test cricket and a competition.  So much so that for the first time in 15 years I am considering downgrading my Sky subscription and removing the sports (football has left me cold for about 5 years and cricket appears to be going the same way, everything is hyped up to the extent that your expectations are never going to be met). Only at Cardiff was the result in doubt going into the 2nd day, in every other match it was obvious after day 1, which team were going to fold like a cheap suit.

It’s test cricket Jim but not as we know it.  We knew our batting had frailties, guessed that Australia had less, but they were much, much worse, once you dismissed their top 3 you knew you were not more than 100 runs off the end of their innings.  At least we had Ali and Broad.
It is neither either or, but both, yay we beat the Aussies, but it wasn’t difficult and both sides when they were bad were absolutely abject.
In 2009 the tension started in Cardiff and ended after a dismal headingley showing with a tense match at the Oval where Broad had one of his great Ashes spells (and the Aussies moaned about pitch doctoring (plus ca change) whilst stupidly forgetting to pick a spinner).
2013 Trent Bridge and Durham were close (the Aussies should have won after the start Rogers and Warner gave them in the second innings at Durham) and at Old Trafford we were fortunate (but it still could have been a draw).
A test match should be difficult, adversity needs to be faced and overcome, but both sides almost gave up after one innings.  I remember Strauss and Trescothick scoring 200+ in a second innings rear guard in South Africa (Durban I think),  I don’t think either of these teams could contemplate this, and the fact that neither team could last 3 days shows that we are appearing to lose the raison d’être of Test Cricket, which is that it is (excuse my French) supposed to be a fucking test.
CB – It is certainly not an ‘either’/ ‘or’. It also depends on your definition of the word ‘woeful’.


I think if we accept that the quality of cricket (mainly the batting) was of a very low standard – and that is what is suggested by ‘woeful’ – then I think it would be hard to disagree. But it is all relative to who the spectator is! 
For the one-eyed supporter, it is rarely about the quality of the match, just the outcome: 
“It’s not the taking part, it IS the winning’. 
Any of us who’ve ever gone to watch our football team in a FA Cup Final will concede that they couldn’t give a stuff if it was a ‘feast of football’ as long as ‘our boys won’. 
“I’d rather an awful, scrappy, comfortable 3-0 cruise to victory than a thriller with a late-winner for the oppo. Great for the millions of armchair fans at home, comfy in front of their TVs – but bollocks to them! We haven’t traveled all this way to go home empty-handed. Look in the record books – it says we won. Who cares if it was a crap game. No-one will remember.” 
That of course is what many of us feel as England cricket fans right now. Not all, but I dare say most. Neutrals will have been disappointed – but oddly enough more at the lack of 5 day contests – but excited by the thrill and spectacle of Australia’s cataclysms, while the Aussie fans will want to forget the whole experience – and are likely to be haunted by memories of that first morning in Nottingham for the rest of their lives. 
The corollary to all of this of course is that the VERY BEST way to win is to triumph inspite of thrills, spills and setbacks along the way. That’s partly why the 2005 win was such an incredible, memorable victory – because it was a roller-coaster AND because this was against not just the best cricket team in the world, but possibly the BEST CRICKET TEAM IN THE WORLD EVER. 
This time around the opposition were fair, and we were only slightly better, but it was the Australians who were well-past their ‘best before’ dates – and some were on the verge of their ‘use by’ dates. So the win was satisfying, but not as fulfilling as 2005. 
But it, the 2015 series itself, was not woeful – merely some of its cricket played was. But I bet you that 10, 20, 50 years from now this series (certainly Edgbaston & Trent Bridge) will still remain sharply in the memory far more clearly than 2009 (which is already fading) and 2013 (all but forgotten!). 
This was a series of crap cricket at its scarcely believable best/worst that none of us will ever forget.

PE – Well I didn’t watch as much as usual, to be honest. A combination of living in Finland and a complete sense of disenchantment with the ECB, Cap’n Cook, Sky, the media and all the usual stuff discussed here. It does seem to have resembled two bald men fighting over a comb but you still have to beat the team in front of you and I don’t think any of us expected England to do that this summer. So congratulations are in order, but the usual overreaction by our friends in the media is not. I wish the youngsters a bright future and have no beef with Bayliss and Farbrace who seem to be doing a good job. Cricket’s been complicated for me, sadly. What was once a simple, uncomplicated joy has been tarnished.

CJ – For me an 80/20 that it’s still the Ashes but with an increasing eye on the decline in quality, the overfamiliarity of the teams lining up against each other and the attitude of the SkyComms over selling its authenticity, the same authenticity they have a hand in diminishing.
MP – I don’t think this series will live long in the memory for most. Whilst I’m pleased we have won the Ashes back both teams have major flaws that need correcting if either are to become a side to be reckoned with. Despite the series not being of the highest quality I will never tire of seeing the Aussies dismissed in the manner of Trent Bridge.
Meta – It was a woeful series – but I’m happier winning 3-2 than losing 3-2 because I remember a lot of years of Aussie dominance. And, to be undiplomatic, my years living in Aus didn’t endear the typical Aussie sports commenter to me. However, as much as I’m relieved that we didn’t crumple as I feared, the one-sided nature of the games adds up to a woeful series. That’s all I can say. Others have said plenty in the comments to the last panel about just why it should be classified as woeful.
AiB – Both, it’s been brilliant in its utter batting ineptitude but also it feels unsatisfactory because of how poor the batting has been. Still, 60 all out, snigger
2. A lot of focus has been on England winning on the wickets that did something, but getting hammered on those that didn’t. Any explanations?

OdB – Yep, see most of Metatones posts for the past year.  Broad aside (who bowled well in Australia, and bowled well in the UAE last time we were there) our main strike bowlers aren’t quick enough and rely on movement in the air to take wickets.  County cricket pitches apparently (not a massive follower but I read what other people who’s opinions I respect say (but not wctt)) are not conducive to spin, and encourage medium pace swing bowling.  Well that’s great for county cricket but most wickets worldwide (apart from a few) require more than that, and an 80mph swing bowler is not going to take international batters wickets.  we don’t have a Fraser, or a Hoggard line and length bowler (Hoggard was more than that, but when it didn’t swing he knew how to bowl the right lengths for the pitch) to keep the runs down.  Anderson did it in Australia in 2011 but reverted to type in 2013/14.  We seem to lack variety, and apart from Harmison I don’t ever remember England having a genuine pace bowler (a la Johnson, who isn’t even that quick compared to the great West Indians).

So to sum up we don’t have many spin bowlers in CC, we don’t seem to ever produce genuine pace bowlers, and don’t get me started on what the ECB do to ‘mystery’ bowlers, Rashid is being briefed against, there was a chap (can’t remember his name and am in Napoli airport without wifi, but Google ‘Dobell espn mystery spin and ECB’ and the sorry tale of his exclusion will appear).  I think it is too easy for CC bowlers to take wickets on green tops and therefore we don’t have bowlers ready for flatter wickets.  Rant aside, on both flat wickets our batters should have done so much better.  As I alluded to above on question 1 when Australia got a big score our batters seemed to think crikey we can’t make that, oh well give it a whack.  Test cricket should be hard, and require application, as the Australians (didn’t) learn at both Edgbaston and Trent Bridge if you apply yourself in the morning, it gets easier in the afternoon and after tea even easier (assuming weather conditions are consistent).  We should know this, but I don’t think Cook and Root aside we do, Lyth was trying to play shots way too early (sorry Adam you aren’t Brendan McCullum).  Unless a major sea change in attitude occurs we will struggle in the UAE and SA if the pitches are flat.

CB – Even the so-called experts have been struggling to make sense of this series. Very view could see anything other than a hefty Australia win in the series, and even now are unable to come to terms with the outcome. 

It’s been like a science experiment where 90% of the professors are standing with their jaw hanging to the floor because they couldn’t possibly conceive of the results. 
But then again these are the same twits who before we went down under in 13/14 said the result of that was a foregone conclusion too. We really shouldn’t listening to these people – most of the time they just guess anyway. The fact they played 100+ Tests does not make them more prescient than you or I – it just means they are paid thousands/millions for their opinions which we have to listen to. 
The narrative of this series was always likely to include the relative upward/downward age curve of the two sides (as it did down under last time) – and on both occasions this was a huge factor (though not the decisive one) in deciding the winner of the Ashes. THE greatest factor was home conditions – and the ability to exploit them (bowlers) or counter them (batsmen). In Aus the hard, fast pitches were expertly utilised by a rampant Johnson and a brilliantly persistent Harris who both bowled at their peak. Their performances were GREAT. England’s batsmen were not up to the task (to put it mildly), and the aging side did not have the stomach for the fight.
Here in England, Broad in particular made the most of those pitches which offered a great deal of lateral movement, supported at various times by Anderson, Finn, Wood & Stokes. Australia’s batsmen were not up to the task, and the aging side did not have the technique for the fight.
Where that deviated from the norm was Lord’s and The Oval. The Lord’s pitch was a disgrace to cricket – and thank Heavens Australia had some genuine pacemen to make something of that benign surface. I know we batted spinelessly, but I think without Johnson & Starc’s extra ‘zip’ we’d have seen a high-scoring bore draw. Day 1 I was there – it was the most boring cricket I have ever seen.
The Oval was an aberration. We didn’t turn up. I’m not saying we would have won if it’s been 2-2, but we would have ‘switched on’. 
And let us not undervalue the importance of the toss in this series. 
Many have said we should give the option to the visitors each time. What nonsense! 
The toss in this series PROVED the value of it – if only because of the eternal likelihood of skippers (and pundits) getting it wrong! 
In the 1st Test (an important toss to win) Cook got it right and batted. In the 2nd Test (a vital toss to win) Clarke got it right and batted. In the 3rd Test (a crucial toss to LOSE – they’d have both batted) Clarke got it wrong and batted (Cook would’ve done the same – probably with similar results). In the 4th Test (an important toss to win) Cook got it right and fielded (though I doubt very much we’d have seen the same ’60 all out’ outcome if Clarke had won the toss). In the 5th Test (an important toss to LOSE) Cook got it wrong and fielded. Clarke would have done the same. This was the biggest nonsense of them all. The Oval is ALWAYS a bat first ground. And yet even the well-paid pundits said ‘field’. I doubt very much there was a single knowledgable Surrey member at the ground that morning saying anything other than ‘BAT!’ But both sides had got carried away by the first innings of the previous two Tests. But then this was a series in which ‘good cricketing practices’ were either largely forgotten or disregarded.
To answer the question: the pitches were important; and so was the toss in each case; but ultimately it was the two sides’ ability to master the prevailing conditions. If we’d had 5 hard, flat pitches we’d have been thrashed. But then again, if the Aussies had provided nicely watered grassy surfaces 18 months ago we might still be watching Trott, Swanny & KP in an England shirt.

PE – It’s all been said hasn’t it? I’m no fan of doctored pitches. If there is an explanation then it has to do with pace. England aren’t very good against it, and we don’t have bowlers who can bowl with it, hence the greentops that ruined England’s competitiveness in the 70s and 80s.

CJ – There are international teams other than England that know how to bowl on flat wickets. There are some that struggle where there is lateral movement and Australia is amongst them. The irony is that it is the Big Three teams with the least variety and application.
MP – More down to the woeful Australian batting for me. The biggest surprise of the series has been the rank ineptitude of the Aussie middle order, I thought their batting line-up was far superior to England’s pre-series when in fact it has been worse. Only on flat wickets have they been able to muster up a decent total.

Meta – We have two bowlers great in seaming conditions. Stokes is also much better when the ball moves. Wood and Finn have more about them on flatter pitches, but didn’t show it that well. Ali is still developing. Throw in that the Aussie batting style has gotten hardened into a less flexible one and we win in those conditions.

When the conditions look more like Australia – well the Aussie batsmen piled up big runs. Not only is our bowling weak in that situation, their batsmen perform better. I’d throw in that we’re weak under scoreboard pressure.
All this fits a pattern that goes back to the last time we were in the UAE, and the “text gate” tour of England by SA. We’re a side very dependent on conditions. (Shows through in our old “win a low score game” philosophy of ODIs that came unstuck so badly at the WC.)

AiB – Australia seem to think anything that moves off the straight is UnAustralian & against the spirit of cricket. Therefore they never usual face those pitches, the atmospherics or skilled bowlers, let alone all three at the same time.

At the oval Aus managed not to edge balls they had the last 2 games, they could have been easily 4 down by lunch.
As for England on flat pitches, lords showed their bowlers need some assistance & the batsmen couldn’t cope with accurate, confident quick bowling after 5 sessions in the field
3. The next Ashes is over two years away, thank heavens. How do you feel this series will link in to that one? Do England have the makings of a good side?

OdB – Hmmm, I have considered this over 2 days and I still don’t know.  I think Australia have a lot of work to do (but I don’t know the state of their game well enough to comment on who may come in, they need at least 5 new players over the next few years, however England also need some major surgery in my opinion).  Cook has improved as a captain and he is a proper opener, if we can find him a suitable partner and start getting 50-100 runs on the board then a platform is set.

I love Root, think Stokes is worth persevering with (he seems better than Freddie was at a similar stage in his career), Broad should still be around.
I think Anderson and Bell will be gone, Ali needs to improve either batting or bowling, Buttler needs to rediscover his game (hopefully the upcoming ODI series will remind him how he needs to bat) and Wood if managed well could be the quickest bowler we’ve had since Harmison.
I’m not convinced about Bairstow, I think Finn is hope rather than expectation, Lyth hasn’t the temperament for test matches.
We need therefore to find an opener, two batters, a strike bowler and a spinner (if Rashid doesn’t meet our expectations).  For Australia away we have the time to do this, but some harsh decisions need to be made, and I personally think Anderson should not be picked for the UAE and I think SA may be his last away series.

CBBut the scars of previous encounters will be there for both teams. England do have a young and exciting side, and many from this series may well make the journey, while some may not – but will be replaced by other youngsters. Hales is surely likely to be part of the set up sometime soon and other emerging names may well make the trip. Of the current team you’d think that Cook, Root, Stokes, Ali, Broad, Finn and Wood are certainties, fitness allowing. I’m not so sure about Buttler, or Bairstow – though one of them will doubtless be there. 

As for Australia, only Warner, Smith and Mitch Marsh look to be part of the continuity in the batting – but their bowlers will give us the hurry up again – and I think they have a group of quicks with the potential to be awesome: Starc, Cummins, Patterson, Hazlewood – plus Coulter-Nile, Bird etc. England do have the makings of a good side but if those Aus seamers stay fit and mature as cricketers then I think they will beat us over there and come back to England and beat us for the first time in the UK since 2001.

PE – I can’t see a link to be honest, unless it relates to psychology: Australia won’t hold any demons for the younger players. As for the second question: hard to say, really. Root looks world class, Buttler and Stokes look to have real potential. Bayliss and Farbrace seem to have instilled a positive attitude. But there’s a lot of holes to fill and Buttler and Stokes will need careful management if they’re to fulfil their potential.

CJ – Australia will be a pretty different side. What Bayliss makes of this “group of players” in England remains to be seen. I now hear Bell isnt retiring but the fact that it was under consideration tells me it will be very much sooner than later (sadly as I am a fan).
MP – Yes, I’m thankful we have a bit of a break to the next one. By the time it comes around Australia will virtually have a new side so it will be intriguing to see who comes in in the next few months. As an Australian resident I will be watching more of their upcoming Tests than England’s so will be observing with interest their development. As for England I think they have the nucleus of a good side. Their problems are well documented – a lack of a decent spinner and a long-term opener are their immediate questions to answer.
Meta Not sure I even want to think about the next Ashes. England of course have the makings of a good side. Root, Broad have shown top class performance, Finn, Stokes, Buttler and Ali all have talent and could develop into very assured performers in two years. On the other hand, that leaves 5 slots still open to question. So they could equally be a team that goes Down Under and loses 5-0 again… All the more so because the England setup and CC seems to have specific weaknesses for Aussie conditions.

AiB – I can see Cook & broad being the only survivors of the glorious 2010/2011 tour, but I can see the rest of the team doing well, ballance will be back & better, Stokes & butler should be well ensconced & know their game & hopefully Rashid will be allowed to play.

England have the chance to be a very good side, I’m not sure Aus will have the batsmen, but they’ll have plenty of excellent quicks, but no Johnson
4. What was your favourite moment of the series?
OdB – Brad Haddin dropping Joe Root, we all thought it and it was true, he dropped the Ashes.  He was the glue in Australia in 2013/14 and he is an Australian of the Hayden/Warner mould (I.e. Unlikeable). Couldn’t happen to anyone more deserving. (I am sure he is a lovely man, and I respect him putting his daughter first, but he is an Aussie therefore in a purely sporting sense I am gloating).
CB – Unquestionably the first morning at Trent Bridge. Those 18.3 overs will be with all of us for the rest of our lives.
PE – Churlish I know, but I did enjoy Cook’s failure to make a century. Finn’s comeback was a highlight as he seems such a decent fellow.

CJ – Michael Clarke in a response to Jimmy Andersons injury at Birmingham, something like “obviously you dont want to see a player get injured”   Excuse me but where does this rainbow end? This will be the same Michael Clarke of course that said with one wicket remaining at Brisbane in November 2013 “get ready for a broken ****ing arm”

Clarke would have known at the Gabba that the stump microphones were only inches away and the fact that it was with one wicket remaining. This was nothing to do with a Gabba victory, the match was already won. It was a thinly veiled message for the rest of the series and a message for his success hungry fans to hear that he was the man for this fight. The press have done a fine job of attempting to deconstruct the myths about Clarke in the last month but I feel looking back that was a deliberate attempt by him in Nov 2013 to let the fans know he was the big man, the fair dinkum Aussie that they constantly feared he wasnt.

Dont get me wrong, Im not keen on our captain as you know but I rather go out for a pie n mash with Ponting than Clarke and that says it all.

(Lets not get confused either with the Phillip Hughes aftermath. That was LIFE, I am talking about SPORT the usual stuff. Of course he handled that with dignity but only hours earlier he was facing an apex with Cricket Australia)

As for on the field, need I say more than 8 for15. Its value increases as each day passes. Thank God I took the day off work that day.

MP – Stokes’s catch at Trent Bridge to dismiss Voges and Broad’s reaction to it. Fantastic stuff.
Meta – Can’t go past Broad at Trent Bridge. I’m not actually in favour of big batting score games – I much prefer bowlers to dominate. This was gripping stuff. Honourable mentions go to Root’s centuries and some of Ali’s rearguard action.


Courtesy of AiB
Courtesy of AiB
5. Your chance to pick the England team for the first UAE test, and any changes you might make for the first South Africa test? (Note that answers were given before squad announcements)
OdB – Cook, Compton, Asari, Hales, Root, Stokes, Buttler, Ali, Broad, Rashid, Wood
Cook:  probably captain for the foreseeable future, part of me is glad that Root hasn’t been burdened with this, but he is at best a workmanlike captain.  Bayliss has seemed to loosen the shackles and he has improved, but it was from such a low base that a blind singing monkey may well have done better than what was loosely referred to as his ‘captaincy’ during the Ashes in Australia and summer 2014.  Still a very good batsman (a great accumulator of runs to damn with faint praise).
Compton: was poorly treated (apparently he was hard to get on with ffs).  He did well in India, plays spin well, and you never know we may reach 30 before losing a wicket.  Plus he scores slowly (the job of an opener is to take the shine off the ball for the middle order dashers).
Asari: has got 39 wickets this season and is an opener, it is a Trott style punt, but a spinner that bats might be a good thing, he can’t do any worse than Bell did in the UAE last time.
Hales: deserves his chance but I think he is too flighty to open in test cricket, I also think he will do well in SA.  I think he will blossom at 4.
Root: can bat anywhere but I like him at 5
Stokes: needs to be 6 as above is too high, and 7 is too low.
Buttler: needs to go back to how he batted before, but he is a great prospect and as long as the UAE doesn’t destroy his confidence he should prosper on the true pitches of SA.  Bairstow as backup keeper (he should be able to keep to Rashid well)
Ali: looks good at 8, his bowling needs to improve but with two other spinners it isn’t all on his head.
Broad: man of the series for me this summer,  think he will excel in both UAE and SA. FEC (as if they would let a chippy bowler be captain)
Rashid: we should have seen him by now, if we don’t see him in this series then Selfey et al and their snide campaign is victorious.  I think he will do well in Test cricket if given a chance.
Wood: If he is fit (and the schedule isn’t back to back tests, probably is but I can’t check and hope springs eternal) he is fast and will hopefully cause the Pakistani batters (and subsequently SA batters) difficulties.  Finn as backup, he will do well in SA and we need to think of the future.
For SA I would bring back Anderson for either Ali or Ansari (depending on who played best in the UAE). Would also have James Taylor on standby, because we always do!

CB – Funnily enough my team to play Pakistan would look something similar to the one I picked for this panel for the first Test in the Ashes. I advocated then picking 6 bowlers and batting Moeen at 5 to accommodate Rashid – and do the same now:

1. Cook
2. Hales
3. Bell (last chance!)
4. Root
5. Moeen Ali
6. Stokes
7. Buttler (or Bairstow)
8. Rashid
9. Broad
10. Finn
11. Anderson
I wouldn’t be looking ahead to the make-up of my side to face South Africa until the UAE tour is over.
PE – They’re different teams, surely? I’d be minded to give Hales a run as Cook’s latest victim/patsy. I wouldn’t change much else. Pietersen would obviously improve the middle order but it won’t happen. I’d like to see a quick decision on Buttler. Imagine how many runs Kumar and Brendon would have scored if they’d given up the gloves earlier.

CJ – Cook, Carberry, Bell, Root, Ballance, Ali, Stokes, Buttler, Rashid, Broad, Finn       Squaddies: Footit, Anderson, Bairstow, Wood, Hain (to get used to all that dressing room banter and acclimatise to Wardys interviews)

If Bell has a bad UAE tour, he might not make the SAF trip but apart from that the only change will be one spinner not two. Maybe Woakes will get a gig.

MP – For the UAE, Hales deserves a chance at the top of the order and Rashid should play. Longer term, if Bell doesn’t come good James Taylor must be in with a shout. As a Kent supporter would love to see Daniel Bell-Drummond in an England shirt at some point but probably not for a few years yet!

Meta – So which team would I pick for the first UAE game?

Compton, Hales, KP, Root, Bairstow, Stokes, Buttler, Ali, Broad, Rashid, Finn.
Logic: I’m choosing to rest Anderson and Wood to try and prolong their careers, so that makes the seam attack: Broad, Finn, Stokes. This is 2-spinner country, so Ali and it’s time to give Rashid a chance. I once calculated that Rashid has spent over a year of cricket carrying drinks for England.
Batting: It’s for me to choose, so I choose KP to come in at 3, since Bell may retire. (I think KP is the obvious choice for a problem 3 position.) Cook would refuse to play with him, so I’d bring in Compton. Hales is the obvious current choice to try for the other opening slot. Root is the banker. Bairstow I’m almost inclined to drop, but he deserves a couple more Tests to show some quality.
If Bell isn’t retiring I’d have to rethink.
In SA I wouldn’t play 2 spinners. I’d be guessing Anderson comes in – and Wood’s chances depend on how well Finn is bowling.

AiB – Cook, Hales, Root, Bell, Ali, Stokes, Butler, Rashid, Broad, Jimmy/Wood, Wood/Finn

BONUS Question
6. You could make one change to the current England set-up. Management, players, administration…. What would it be? Again I’ll open that one out to all the readers as well.
OdB – (Two things both related), One I would renegotiate the Sky deal to allow at least two home test matches a year on free to air TV.   This coverage will be an extended advert for Sky as they will still be the host broadcaster and provide the commentary and analysis but it will be in terrestrial TV. This will reinvigorate the game amongst our youth. At Edgbaston my mate commented that when we saw Steve Waugh’s Aussies in 2001 we represented the average age of the crowd, in 2015 we were still about the average age.  This is a ridiculous situation.  The second thing (which is related to the first), all tickets for under 16s for any day of an England test will be £10, one adult accompanying the under 16 will be able to purchase a ticket for £25, and at least 10% of tickets will be available under these terms.  The cost will be underwritten by Sky and they will be able to retrieve this by what they sell the live test matches to the free to air broadcaster for.  Everybody wins!!
CB I honestly don’t know. There’s so much that needs changing, but you give me ‘only one’. I think to make any REAL effective change we’d need a genie to grant us three wishes. And that still wouldn’t be enough. If I could make one change, it would be for the UK government (of whichever political persuasion) to ‘nationalise’ our national sports. They should be governed as a service industry to the British people, and that SERVICE should be the over-riding principle – not profit, nor even a commitment to international growth of the game. The commitment should be to us. And out of that should come a dedicated BBC ‘free-to-air’ National Sports Channel, which would broadcast those events which are part of our lifeblood, heritage and national psyche. And that of course would include Test cricket. And by that I mean uninterrupted ball-by-ball coverage. No pissing off to the 4.10 from Chepstow when the England captain is 299 not out! Or ‘heading to the newsroom to join Moira’ 2 overs before lunch on the first morning of the Test. God that used to fuck me off!! (Calm down, just think of Broad’s face at that Stokes catch). Ah, that’s better! 🙂
PE – What New Zealand did. Out with the old, in with the new.
CJ – Whittaker has been lucky to survive but it is more about continuity now after the Trott, KP, Prior, Swann period ending and Flower/Moores “seamless handover”  Saker has now gone thank God. No – lets assess things in 18 months.
MP – The removal of the odious Giles Clarke from anything to do with the ECB or the ICC would be my choice, although that’s unlikely to happen. The Big Three carve-up was a disgraceful decision with serious implications for the long-term future of the game and his bullish response to any questioning of that decision makes my blood boil. Getting some form of cricket on FTA TV is another must. Would also like to see England playing more games against associates in an attempt to grow the game – a Four Nations style tournament biannually with Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands would be great, in my opinion.
Meta – Not sure where the line is drawn between administrators and management. But assuming management is Bayliss for sure and maybe Strauss, then as much as I’d like to get rid of Strauss,  it’s the admin that really is the long-term problem. We need FTA coverage, we need better pitches in CC (the Durham strategy of green result pitches is a good way to avoid draws, but does nothing to develop true pace or spin), we need improvements in the calendar, we need better grassroots engagement (not just Sport England money!) etc. etc. Admins for the chop!

AiB – Other than Giles Clarke being publicly humiliated, striped of his position & hopefully arrested for crimes against suits, or having them apologise about KP & the outside cricket stuff.

I’d like the ECB to make a concerted effort to make cricket a game for the fans & players again. Both nationally & internationally, some FTA games, lots more Internet streaming of none televised games & reducing prices for internationals.
Oh and to leave T20 finals day a fucking lone. It’s a great day & great value for money


That is that. Thanks to all who contributed in the latter half of the summer. It has worked brilliantly and the responses have covered a wide range. It’s been great fun.
Thanks also for many of the nice words written by you on the e-mails. It has been a pleasure. Sorry this has been a little late in coming. It is, in some ways, better that way…

49 thoughts on “Death of an Ashes Panel – The Final Goodbye To A Much Loved Collective

  1. Arron Wright Sep 19, 2015 / 11:27 pm

    No.6 – Blast Giles Clarke into space, in a one-man prison vessel, posing no further threat to cricket fans on earth. Then it is revealed that Tom Harrison was also placed on board by mistake.

    “This is the one thing we didn’t want to happen.”


    • Rooto Sep 20, 2015 / 8:28 am

      Totally agree. My one wish is for Jarrod and Sam to find the evidence they believe to exist, but never found when making the film, and for that evidence to send Clarke down.


    • BoerInAustria Sep 20, 2015 / 11:26 am

      Agree: “one change”

      Fish. Rot. Head. Giles Clarke.


  2. Rooto Sep 20, 2015 / 8:35 am

    I must respectfully disagree with David (CB) on question one. Only 3 weeks later and I can already remember fewer remarkable events from this summer (Broad at Nottingham) than I can from 2013 (Agar, Broad at Durham, The Oval in the “dark”) or from 2009 (the miracle of Cardiff, Broad and Trott at the Oval). That’s just counting the precious jewels of course. I can also vaguely recall some semi-precious moments from all three series.
    Essentially though, when something is thoroughly shit, little point scouring through it for lighter shades of brown.


  3. SimonH Sep 20, 2015 / 8:55 am

    “A golden summer in which bridges were not so much burned as put through an incinerator, then rebuilt to Isambard Kingdom Brunel levels”.

    “A spiritual revolution. By the end of the summer not only had the Ashes been regained and the limited overs team reborn as a fully paid up member of the 21st century but the nation had begun to fall back in love with cricket”.

    “What happened in 2015 will come to be ranked with those other magical occasions on English soil: 1926, 1953, 1977, 2005, 2009”.

    “Never has a Test crowd in England been more continuously enraptured by events”.

    “It has been miraculous”.

    This has to be some sort of spoof from Brenkley….


    • BoerInAustria Sep 20, 2015 / 10:51 am

      Sing about victory! Sing about our beloved nation!


    • Arron Wright Sep 20, 2015 / 11:22 am

      The penultimate quote especially is a massive insult to any cricket fan lucky enough not to be a galumphing idiot.

      Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Sep 20, 2015 / 11:55 am

        There are the season’s valedictories from Selvey and Newman to look forward to yet….


      • LordCanisLupus Sep 20, 2015 / 12:25 pm

        No. The sheer chutzpah in writing this nonsense just over a year after he tripped over everyone to rush out of the Downton press conference to regale us with stories of impressiveness and aplomb……

        “Both Harrison and Strauss were impressive that day. Preposterously young men by the normal standards of cricket administration, they spoke with conviction and passion.

        Harrison apologised for the woeful fashion in which the dismissal of Peter Moores, an estimable coach and a dignified man who happened to be in the wrong job, had been handled. Strauss explained authoritatively why there was no place for Kevin Pietersen in the England team. Their performances disguised the shambles rather than eradicated it.”

        An absolute bufton….

        Liked by 1 person

  4. SimonH Sep 21, 2015 / 11:39 am

    I posted a comment on The Guardian thread after a Joanthan Dimbleby article argung free speech is under attack (blaming the mob on social media amongst others). I pointed out without naming any individuals that the policy of not allowing any questioning of journalists’ integrity meant that even comments just quoting a journalist’s words back at them are deleted. I didn’t mention any journalists by name but I’m sure most here know who I was thinking of.

    Two hours later it has disappeared without trace.


    • d'Arthez Sep 21, 2015 / 2:25 pm

      Yeah, freedom of speech exists as long as the powers that be agree with it …


    • Mark Sep 21, 2015 / 6:03 pm

      What a complete couple of pratts the Dimbleby brothers are. Drenched in privilege, and living off their fathers name and so called “insider knowledge.” Trouble is, time and again the so called insiders are proved wrong, and one suspects deliberately so. Then, when they are called on their lies and half truths they get the knickers in a twist and scream freedom of speech. And “mob rule.” Nick Robinson is another one who has been called on his bullshit and started banging on about so called freedom of speech.

      The MSM has sold out its soul on almost every topic. Politics, bussiness, sport. It’s all insiders prendending to cover the stories. The MSM is like a giant edition of the Trueman show. Actors pretending to be impartial and cover events. There is a major story in today’s news,but it has been blanked out by the BBC and other news organisations because it is embarrasing.

      The Dimberlbys won’t be covering it or Many of the so called freedom of speech defenders. I wonder why?


      • escort Sep 21, 2015 / 8:41 pm

        What do they all have in common?


      • Mark Sep 22, 2015 / 7:58 am

        Both the Guardian and the independent have gone down the pan in recent years. They have become establishmemt lickspittles,

        My theory is they are desperate for corporate advertising, so have to become cheerleaders for the right sort of people.


      • Arron Wright Sep 22, 2015 / 11:01 am

        He’s taken over The Spin again, with some ultra-topical stuff of vastly more importance than, say, Clarke, Srinivasan or the rather embarrassing and glaringly obvious connection our own humble blogger drew between Japan v SA and the 2019 World Cup.


      • SimonH Sep 22, 2015 / 3:33 pm

        A bit of sarcasm in that particular comment though?

        I’m sincerely hoping the thread doesn’t get into three figures. Below fifty even?


  5. pktroll (@pktroll) Sep 21, 2015 / 6:17 pm

    Sorry to be a bit late to this but here are my views on the question you set the good folk of the panel.

    1. I’m pleased that England have won the Ashes but at the same time feel utterly underwhelmed due to the fact that a) It was the 3rd Ashes series in 2 years and b) that the overall quality of the cricket was poor. I did admire though the performances of Root, Broad and the return of Finn. The latter may never quite be the bowler we hoped he would be, but he’s a considerable upgrade on the version that was so out of sorts from the 2013 home series up until the world cup.

    2.I think the first match in Cardiff was a bit forgotten in that, certainly in the first innings England bowled with great discipline when there was nothing much in the pitch there. The Lord’s game, there was a fair amount of criticism that could have been levelled at Anderson who put in a poor performance there, as Wood struggled with his stamina and Ali with his basic line and length. The Oval, I think they just bowled rather poorly when actually there was a bit of help if they had bowled good areas. After all, a distinctly medium fast line and lengther in Siddle was the one who was successful. In the early part of the Australia innings Wood actually was a little unlucky and Finn actually had Smith in a fair bit of trouble early in his innings without Smith nicking off. So I think it is a little overly simplistic although not without merit.

    3. I’m not sure this series will much link in with that. I don’t think Bell and Anderson will make that series for starters and I also don’t think a few of the batsman, starting with Lyth, Bairstow and possibly Buttler will be there. It will be a rather different side that England will take, and a rather different XI that they will be confronted with. I rather think it will be a comfortable home series win and who knows, the more knowledgeable Aussie cricket fans might feel a little indifferent to seeing ordinary cricket with a predictable series outcome.

    4.The successful return of Finn at Edbaston. Gave England a different dynamic. As I said above he may never be the consistently nasty bowler that we hoped but he will turn it on enough to help win games. I hope he now gets the management that he needs to perhaps even incrementally improve from that which he has shown in this series gone. Even the poorer moments looked substantially better than the Finn that played in Australia eariler this year.


  6. pktroll (@pktroll) Sep 21, 2015 / 6:32 pm

    Oh blast, I forgot the last two. Here goes.

    5. I wouldn’t have taken Bell to UAE. I had the impression that he was serely burnt out and would have save him for South Africa, where a refreshed Bell may still have some cricket left in him. I can’t help feeling that a poor tour here, and he’s never really convinced versus quality spin in Asia is dire,he’s out to pasture. I’ve never been the biggest fan of his but once he’s gone, he’s gone.When I say that it is just that despite the hype he just isn’t the player that people think he is in terms of natural talent. He might be the most naturally stylish player of the current England team but that is like comparing the leading English footballers compared to their peers in the world game, i.e. he isn’t close to being the best. However he is and that Ansari is likely to be injured I don’t think there is a choice but to pick him.

    My line up given the squad would have been.

    Hales (with reservations)

    I don’t like it much and think that we are going to see a couple of tests (at least) where the batting falls apart at the seams decisively.

    I really don’t know where to go with South Africa. Will Ansari get a go there if he doesn’t make the UAE tour? I could possibly see Compton getting a go at opener there but that will be that.

    6. I guess a big overhaul of the senior management/administration if I ruled the world. I’d almost be inclined to pick folk who had nothing previous to do in cricket prior to that other than having been business men who were actually fans of the game rather than those who have edged their way in through their county connections.


  7. LordCanisLupus Sep 22, 2015 / 4:20 pm

    Didn’t catch the comment from wctt and it’s now deleted.


    • SimonH Sep 22, 2015 / 7:04 pm

      It was:-

      Andy Flower was a top class coach and you were a nasty little man. The thing that’s changed is that Andy Flower is no longer coach.


    • Arron Wright Sep 22, 2015 / 10:26 pm

      I hope you saw the bit where he got several recommends for suggesting that Flower was *not* a successful coach for just the “one series”…


    • d'Arthez Sep 22, 2015 / 9:11 pm

      Seriously, the ICC could email dossiers labeled “Info on corruption in the ICC”, to the whole English MSM, and only Mike Walters and possibly Nick Hoult would actually bother to report.

      The chances are higher that Julian Assange (through Wikileaks) or Edward Snowden release some information on the wheelings and corrupt dealings in the ICC, through the Guardian, than Mike Selvey actually doing his job. Or is Mike desperately trying to make the job of “cricket reporter” a redundant position in the Guardian?


    • Zephirine Sep 24, 2015 / 6:22 pm

      3. They have also reduced the number of members of the finance & commercial affairs committee to the same five members and The Trio are the three permanent members of this committee. Only this committee or the executive board can make recommendations to the full board on financial and commercial matters such as the distribution of surplus funds and who should get ICC tournaments.

      Well now, I wonder why they did that,


  8. SimonH Sep 23, 2015 / 10:50 am

    Although Jimmy better not get Cook cheaply again in the second innings in their current head-to-head….


  9. d'Arthez Sep 23, 2015 / 11:16 am

    But we all know that 1 out trumps 355*. After all, Cook is not playing against Leicestershire …


  10. SimonH Sep 23, 2015 / 1:25 pm

    Blimey, they’ve recalled Samit Patel.

    What are the odds both Ali and Patel play in the First Test in UAE? With one of them batting at No.8 or even possibly No.9?

    Look out for the first Selvey “Rashid was rubbish in the nets” story to see which way the wind’s blowing….


    • hatmallet Sep 23, 2015 / 1:42 pm

      “ECB confirm what I thought.”

      Maybe I’m reading too much into it and therefore am just imagining smugness, but it’s like Selve was the only person outside the ECB to think of Samit!


  11. SimonH Sep 24, 2015 / 8:31 am

    Really sickening to hear Pat Cummins has a stress fracture in his back and has to drop out of Australia’s Bangladesh tour.

    Also, I still can’t find any update on Trent Boult’s back condition, even information on what the diagnosis was. Anyone help?


    • d'Arthez Sep 24, 2015 / 3:40 pm

      It has been a persistent problem since he made his debut in South Africa. To have it happen once is unfortunate, but he has sustained injuries on several occasions since then. The Australian medical team seems to have taken a leaf out of the ECB book …


  12. SimonH Sep 25, 2015 / 9:19 am

    So KP says of Strauss’s decision to leave him out, “it seems to be the right decision at the moment” and in the headlines of the Guardian, BBC and Mail this becomes KP admits Strauss made the right decision?

    Some of their other headlines from history would have made interesting reading:

    “Tilbury shocker! Elizabeth admits she has the body of ‘a weak, feeble woman’.

    “FDR admits we should ‘fear’ fear itself”.

    “Maggie admits we can turn ‘if you want to'”.

    Another day in the land of the ECB-media complex.


  13. SimonH Sep 25, 2015 / 10:13 am

    A rare venture into the Guardian CC daily and virtually the first thing I read:

    “Thanks for all your comments below the line. We really do appreciate them, even if some folk express that in different ways than others. This really must be the friendliest BTL thread across the Guardian, and that matters to us up top because we’re a sensitive bunch, you know”.

    Hmm, just try departing from a tone of slightly strained whimsy and one soon discovers how friendly it is. Nice piece of pretend-irony-passive-aggressiveness to finish off with as well.


    • Zephirine Sep 25, 2015 / 11:34 am

      I actually find the CC threads very excluding. Too many private jokes and one is not allowed to even mention the wider game. A home for the cake-baking tendency from TMS (or perhaps the husbands of the cake-bakers, it seems to be quite a boys’ club apart from Hieroglyph). But, for people who like that sort of thing…

      For me, the great thing about the international threads is the comments from all over the world, it’s such an extraordinary thing to be able to have an argument with someone in India and someone in NZ about the merits of Stokes or Bell.


      • Zephirine Sep 25, 2015 / 11:36 am

        Hm, lots of ‘thing’s in that last comment, a few more brain cells must have just keeled over.


      • Fred Sep 25, 2015 / 9:09 pm

        Agree. Eng vs Aus and Eng vs Ind seems to generate alot of nonsense (and I dropped out of the last Ashes because of it), but it was nice to have an international forum. The Saffers that participate are generally interesting, along with the Kiwis; lukethedrifter from SL was always good, and one or two West Indians. There’s alot of good Australian participants too, but they get overwhelmed by the blockheads during the Ashes.
        I’ve read a couple of autobiographies of international cricketers recently, and one thing that struck me was that the the players have nowhere near the same angst with their opposition that blog commenters seem to have. For example, reading about how Ponting joined an IPL team with his nemesis Harbhajan and they ended up bonding because they recognised a bit of themselves in each other, or how the devil incarnate Matt Hayden walked into the Indian dressing room and immediately made friends of everyone with his generosity of spirit, makes you realise the animosity is largely just a construct.
        It’s a shame the G has gone that way, as I don’t know where else you would expect to be the home of an intelligent, popular, international cricket forum. If it doesn’t work there, where else could it?
        It’s why I like this place, because people comment on cricket, not just on their team.


      • Arron Wright Sep 26, 2015 / 2:57 pm

        The watershed for the G, as I always said, was when they scrapped the World Cricket Forum. It’s been hardcore parochialism ever since. In context, textgate was merely the first glaring manifestation of the cricket site’s decline, rather than the turning point per se.

        I wish kpateldf24 would read some of these autobiographies! He’s one of those that wouldn’t have seen out the day on the World Cricket Forum.


      • Fred Sep 26, 2015 / 3:52 pm


        I thought the turning point was the Guardian’s non-reaction to the ICC heist. It didn’t just fail to react, there were several articles saying it didn’t matter much. Bull’s response was pathetic. That was when the site lost credibility for me, and Selvey has compounded the problem since with his ego and axe grinding. I can’t hear the voice of a cricket lover on that site, so I go elsewhere.
        It’s true the failure of the world forum was also telling, I don’t know why they didn’t continue that.

        kptald** is one of the main reasons I gave up on it all, along with westcork. I’ve better things to do with my life than read undistilled prejudice.

        bemusedfella was always good value. Sometimes I think he needed to provide an executive summary to his posts, or a hyperlinked index, but there was no doubting his knowledge, his passion, or his good spirit.

        Hussey’s autobiography was pretty interesting. Frankly a dull and boring book, (which is why I’ve avoided the genre), but given I had such admiration for him, I couldn’t resist. It was an eye opener. Great to have an insight into what actually happened. For example, when he was on the verge of being dropped, and Slater said on TV that “Hussey is finished, he should go”, in Hussey’s next Test, as the bowler ran in, Hussey repeated to himself “Fuck you Michael Slater” to concentrate his mind. The orchestrated campaign against Clarke, the awe of having the privelage of playing with Ponting, the ineptitude of the Australian selection panel around 2009-11, the loss of team spirit (which England was to emulate), it’s all there.

        Would be great if the press could explore this stuff.

        I guess the next thing for the Guradian is how will they cover the brewing storm. There are some serious issues rumbling in world cricket, but I doubt I will be reading about them in the Guardian.


      • Fred Sep 26, 2015 / 4:12 pm

        “For example, when he was on the verge of being dropped, and Slater said on TV that “Hussey is finished, he should go”, in Hussey’s next Test, as the bowler ran in, Hussey repeated to himself “Fuck you Michael Slater” to concentrate his mind.”
        I realise now how silly that comment sounds out of context. There’s nothing extraordinary about someone focussing his resentment on an individual, but it was a graphic demonstration of the pressure these guys are under, and how they can see the world.
        If such a grounded and genuinely honest guy as Hussey was driven to mutter “Fuck you Slater” as the bowler ran in, I wonder what KP, who was much more poorly treated, used to say.


    • d'Arthez Sep 25, 2015 / 11:39 am

      It looks like Hants will escape relegation.

      Sussex lost 5 wickets in the session before lunch against Yorkshire, so now the remaining 5 wickets have to last 2 sessions against Yorkshire. Not sure what the weather gods are up to.


      • SimonH Sep 25, 2015 / 12:27 pm

        Maybe a brief light shower in Leeds but generally weather looks good there and Sussex are mostly going to have to save themselves.

        As a Hampshire fan, I’m expecting they will!


      • d'Arthez Sep 25, 2015 / 2:05 pm

        199/9, with 37 overs left. 109 runs or a wicket. Fair to say that Hampshire are favorites to stay up now.

        Meanwhile Somerset-Warwickshire must have been a nice match too.


      • d'Arthez Sep 25, 2015 / 2:18 pm

        Sussex all out for 208. That should mean (pending pitch issues or otherwise inexplicable deductions) that Sussex are relegated and Hampshire stay up.


      • SimonH Sep 25, 2015 / 2:34 pm

        Next season’s D1 will be the eight Test ground teams plus Somerset.


  14. d'Arthez Sep 25, 2015 / 2:16 pm

    In other news, Jimmy did not take Cook’s wicket second time around. Chapple did. For 4.


    • Arron Wright Sep 25, 2015 / 5:51 pm

      I’m doing all right on the “guess the writer without clicking” game…


      • d'Arthez Sep 25, 2015 / 6:58 pm

        Same here Arron.

        What Ed Smith happily omits to share is that most of the following in the US consists of Indian and West Indian expats. It is a bit like saying South Africa is great at football, because quite a few Dutch, Germans and British people emigrated there through the years …

        Oh, and he also fails to even mention that the ICC reforms meant that the FTP is done away with, only to be replaced by bilateral agreements. Not that the FTP (old style) was perfect, but at least it came with the proviso that everyone had to play everyone. Then he has the audacity to complain that the ICC is powerless – No, this is exactly what the ECB, CA and BCCI wanted, since it means that there can be approximately 2541 Ashes in the next 2542 years. It is not an international governing body, it is a triumvirate, in the style of the late Roman Republic. Potentially unstable, but useful for the BCCI, for the time being. One by one, the minor threats will be strangled to death.

        The talent show format may be great to get some viewers and spot some talent, but it will not change the sporting culture of any country. Not until say, India win the World Cup in baseball, when competing with the professionals (and full strength American, Canadian, Caribbean sides). Oh, and the results in cricket also have to taper off, but that seems hard to rhyme with Clarke’s beloved meritocracy.

        A county like Leicestershire is more important to World Cricket than any Associate (they certainly get more money from the ICC / ECB than Ireland). And you could even argue that Leicestershire has more clout in world Cricket than Cricket South Africa.


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