By way of entertainment, I’ve been reading some of our old favourite’s work so you don’t have to.
Who might that be, you ask?
Yes, our old man who used to be at the Telegraph, a man who topped our polls for worst journalist on a regular basis, and yes, who deemed us poor saps who write using blog names as “irrelevances” has got himself an Ashes gig with Fox Sports Australia. In return for some coinage to recompense him for his views and insight, Oman’s cricket consultant (what, you didn’t know) has regaled those Down Under with some tremendous insight.
Here’s something from a piece just after Cardiff…
If England were not quite wetting themselves at the prospect of facing Mitchell Johnson and all the other Mitchells currently operating with menace, they were pretty apprehensive about it. But a Cardiff pitch shorn of pace, especially in the middle where the main Mitchell is most effective, brought about a double play after England’s victory – simultaneously raising the home side’s spirits while depressing Australia’s, a situation obvious to anyone who watched the past few days’ play.
Suddenly Alastair Cook and his men know there is little to fear, providing climate change doesn’t accelerate like Lewis Hamilton and turn the pitches rock hard overnight. Facing fast bowlers without fear gnawing at you is bolstering in a way that is hard to explain to those who have never been pinned to the crease by 90mph thunderbolts aimed at your throat.
I love hindsight. Yes, I was going on about distress signals, but also, this is a tough bunch of professionals now, not some flaky old players with no recent success behind them and I recognised that. I suppose the Aussie audience want some good old fashioned Pommie jingoism, Muppet…
Tours can unravel at an alarming speed when they start as badly as this one has done for Australia. Teams can play poorly, that is the nature of sport, but it cannot help that Clarke, with his chronic back problems, and several other senior players are on their last Ashes tour.
This is it now. All first test malaises are to be measured about a tour that unravelled spectacularly with our lot. You note that Australia lost the first two over here last time and definitely had the better of the third and to a lesser degree the fifth tests because they did not collapse. It does not follow that Australia will act like England did 18 months ago. However, in lazy journo mode, this is the only precedent, it seems, worth considering.
As a captain heading for the exit and no doubt worn down by the prospect of being the first Australian to lose four Ashes series in England, any further setbacks could see him move on mentally to the next phase of his career.
I don’t know. That doesn’t sound like Michael Clarke to me. What say you?
Maybe Shane Warne’s claim that Starc is ‘soft’ will pique him into declaring himself fit.
Oh yeah. That would do it. Wouldn’t be a muppet piece without some snark.
England, hugely buoyed by their swaggering victory, will also take heed of the recent past. They went one-nil up against New Zealand earlier this summer only to be hauled back to parity in the second Test. Yet that was before Trevor Bayliss had settled onto his perch on the dressing-room balcony, an Aussie hawk to lend talons to Cook’s English dove.
Finally, Cardiff, despite being an opening Test, felt like a watershed moment. During the Ashes series six years ago, Cook’s predecessor Andrew Strauss announced that Australia had lost their aura, and was proved right. Expect Cook to advance that claim again.
I do miss him at the Telegraph. It felt like a watershed, there’s a hawk for poor ickle Ally’s little precious dove (the deer shooting callous bastard). Beautiful. Brings a tear to my eye.
But there’s a lot more. There’s a podcast that I’m sorry, you can’t pay me enough to listen to. My eyes are sore enough as it is without feeling the need to stick nails in them listening to this man’s wit and wisdom. So I’ll read some more…
OUCH, that hurt.
Mitchell Johnson may not have bruised many England bodies at Lord’s, but his fast aggressive bowling broke their resolve.
Three wickets did not do his savage brilliance justice, but Australia will tell you it is a team game and the other bowlers certainly benefited from his efforts as England’s second innings disintegrated in a measly 37 overs.
You changed fast, Muppet.
Less edifying is the sight of craven capitulation, something England were guilty of and something their selectors have a fortnight to come to terms with.
Getting bowled out in the fewest overs ever in the fourth innings in a Test at Lord’s has created an unholy mess and James Whitaker and his panel must now figure out how, and who, they need to cope with Mitch and the other Mitchells.
It will not be simple.
Three of England’s top four are ailing badly though there are hardly a plethora of worthy candidates bashing down the door.
Less a watershed, more a boggy swamp. One week eh? Needed rock hard pitches, eh? No-one seemed to consider the Aussies came into the first test a little undercooked, did they?
Now, there are hardly a plethrora of worthy candidates bashing down the door. That’s partly because the ECB locked one in the cellar and chucked away the key, the duplicitous lying bastards. There is no way this Muppet will mention his name. Here comes the insight:
Jonny Bairstow reached a hundred for Yorkshire the exact moment Jos Buttler edged Johnson to Peter Nevill and has been in purple form all summer.
But it wasn’t long ago he was discounted for Test cricket because of a problem against the short ball.
The Romans may not have minded one-sided contests in the colosseum, but unless Bairstow has overcome his apprehension against the bouncer it would be cruel to pitch him against Johnson in this mood.
There will be advocates for batsmen like Alex Hales and James Taylor, but neither has done well for Nottinghamshire in red ball cricket this season.
James Vince, from Hampshire, has been on the fringes of England selection and can pull well, but like most young players he is the spawn of T20.
“The spawn of T20” being spat out like it’s vile. David Warner is the spawn of T20. One could argue Virat Kohli is. Our wicket-keeper made his name in T20. Why the bile, Degsy?
I thought I’d also highlight this magnificent piece of muppetry that I want to stick on a plinth and polish every day:
In another era Ben Stokes would have been dropped for sheer stupidity after he was run out by Johnson, a dismissal that would not have occurred had he the whit to ground his bat.
Stokes is a huge talent but will never fully realise it while he refuses to engage his grey matter in the sporting process.
There it is. Right there. What is wrong with English cricket. People who write this absolute fuckwittery retain paid positions.
Australia now have all their batsmen, Clarke perhaps the exception though he did make an unbeaten 32 setting the target, and all their main bowlers, confident and firing.
Suddenly, the woes of the world are England’s — a feeling Cook and some of his players know only too well when it comes to Ashes cricket.
A week is a long time in cricket. So it is in cricket writing.
Do you want more?
How about this from Day 2 of the 1st Test:
It looked like hopeful thinking until Smith, who came into the series with some serious plaudits about being the best batsman in world cricket, got in a horrible tangle and poked the ball to Alastair Cook at short mid-wicket, instantly transporting England’s captain into the realms of tactical genius.
Yes. Good captaincy, good field position, snark at Smith, job done. Smoke blown up Cooky’s backside. Lovely.
Next – how about Derek’s marks out of 10…
I think some of this is accurate, but some of the digs…well….
At the moment he looks jittery at the crease and is not watching the ball, a problem Mark Ramprakash, England’s batting coach, also suffered from when uptight, which was most of the time.
No personal vendetta there given who he replaced, Muppet?
But 128 runs in his last 12 Test innings suggests chances aplenty and the selectors should move on.
Remember, there are no replacements. So drop him (Bell).
He has tired quickly during series before and it may be that back-to-back Tests hit him hard.
Someone check that out with Root. Thought it was technical issues and opening/ number 3 in previous series v Australia, but swear he got a big hundred in the 5th test at The Oval last year, didn’t he? Where’s this nonsense come from?
Three ratings for Stokes, a supremely gifted cricketer though one you would not necessarily want in your pub quiz team.
Being in your pub quiz team = a requirement for great test teams. You snob.
Trouble is idiotic tendencies do overcome him, like his naive run-out in the second innings where he failed to ground his bat despite being well in.
His dismissal did not make a difference to the result but its carefree nature was suggestive of a team who does not give a fig about losing and England supporters won’t tolerate that.
You see, the one thing I think about Ben Stokes is that he doesn’t give a toss. All that anger and rage in him, shows up his lack of giving a toss. What the effing hell is this muppet on about? He made a mistake running between the wickets. Jesus. It’s hardly a death penalty offence. But no, he’s a bit rough round the edges, a bit angry, a bit not my type, so the lectures rain down on him. Stokes had better watch out, because they need a new KP, and he’s prime candidate.
Blue-eyed boy, literally and metaphorically. Or at least he was until his star began to wane to the point where he has made just two significant Test scores (fifty plus) in his last 11 innings.
More famous in the last Test when he walked, Adam Gilchrist-style after nicking off to Nathan Lyon, but wicketkeepers have always been strange beasts. His ‘keeping has been decent enough but he needs to deliver a telling knock soon.
This is drivel. Pure drivel.
Another with two ratings but another cricketing schizophrenic. He carried the home side’s attack manfully on an unresponsive pitch (at least for England’s bowlers) yet he appears to have excused himself from getting stuck in with the bat.
His shot-a-ball insouciance, when England could have done with some hard grind, was inexcusable except in the second innings when the end was nigh. A classy Test bowler but a vaudeville act with the bat.
He’s resorting to madness now.
Wonderful stuff. As I say, I miss him. Like a dog misses fleas. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
The more you read of this, the more gems. Some more from other articles…
The other predictable outcome was that Ian Bell is too good a player not to make a major contribution, eventually, having been in deep torpor since last summer.
I’d love thepoetseye to do a job on that shite.
Then there’s talent spotting:
Smith came into the series being lauded by his countrymen as the greatest batsman currently in world cricket. He made 33 in each innings but to this observer he looks too fidgety to be worthy of such a grand claim. His dismissal yesterday, to a ball many would have done well to reach, does not suggest the inner calm possessed by the true gods of batting.
Most of us got over those reservations a few years ago. Here’s what Smith is….. a quick learner. Also, it’s not just the Aussies claiming that title, the ICC rankings seem to concur. Maybe we should have the Muppet Rankings instead.
A few days later…
Smith, who brought his hundred up with a pull for four off James Anderson, played the more fluent innings, if anyone that fidgets as much as he does at the crease can be so described. His shuffle across the stumps is one of the more expansive trigger movements in the game but despite his head moving as the ball is on its way he meets it with the middle of the bat so often that England’s bowlers started to wear that put upon look and pose the rhetorical question of whether this was really a home Test?
Still on about the fidgeting…. how does he do it, you can see him asking himself.
Quite what Cook could, other than rotate his bowlers and hope for a mistake from the batsmen, was not obvious. He needed to dry up the runs and build pressure but none of his bowlers was able to achieve that.
Genius. “Ah, eff it” captaincy.
The last time England took only one wicket in an Ashes Test was Headingley in 1993. On that occasion Australia went from 307 for three to 613 for four. After the match, which England lost, Graham Gooch resigned the captaincy something Cook will not be doing should the same fate befall his team this time.
Not really sure what the point of this was other to mention two England captains from his county.