Tag Archives: Monty Panesar

5 Reasons England Have Lost The Ashes

4 Jan

_71953834_719538331) Australia have been really good

Much of the talk trying to comprehend this defeat for England has been of how bad they are: should Cook be sacked; should Gooch or Flower go; which senior players need to retire. Australia’s excellent cricket has, for the most part, been overlooked. Mitchell Johnson is the consistently quickest bowler England have faced since Shoaib Akhtar in 2005/06 and Brett Lee on that final sun-drenched evening at The Oval in 2005. He’s consistently bowled bouncers and whilst he hasn’t had quite the impact against the good batsmen at the top of the order, his unwavering radar has caused England to take risks at the other end, and thrown away their wickets. Meanwhile, Brad Haddin has slogged away merrily, Peter Siddle and Ryan Harris have been accurate and nagging and all the batsmen but George Bailey and arguably Shane Watson have had really telling innings. Most impressive has been Michael Clarke’s captaincy. He is a fidgety sort of skipper – a style which can look messy and uncertain at times – but he’s looked anything but that in this series. He bowls the star man Johnson in three over bursts, sets the right fields, and knows when to bring on his containing bowlers. He’s been in England’s face since Brisbane, and hasn’t backed down. Talking of England…

2) England have been really badAshes-Memes-If-You're-A-Terrible-Cook-And-A-Dud-Root-Ur-Broad-Will-Cheat-Funny

They’re fairly culpable here. Yes, England haven’t been thoroughly abject just yet, but that’s only because we are judging this soon-to-be 5-0 scoreline on the already exceptionally low yardstick by which we judge English cricket, especially when it’s at its lowest ebb. At the start of the series the batsmen were intent on trying to hook Johnson (which went so well, they all had a go), then they tried to attack Lyon (again, a very successful strategy), and now they just try and survive and wait to be bowled one, which they will leave and be bowled by. And although the bowlers have been slightly better, they’ve also been pretty dire. Constant short bowling to Brad Haddin has been careless at best, totally moronic at worst – and has led to Australia being able to play themselves out of any hole that a good spell of bowling has put them into. James Anderson has been incapable of getting the ball to swing, Graeme Swann was totally ineffectual before his retirement, Monty Panesar was so untrusted by Cook that Joe Root was bowling ahead of him at the MCG and, worst of all, their fielding has been so disappointing. Long days in the broiling Australian sun saps your concentration, but any professional cricket team would struggle to drop as many catches as England have so far.

3) Darren Lehmann’s impact is starting to be felt

He replaced Mickey Arthur about two weeks before the start of the 2013 Ashes series, and the sight of him looking melancholy on the balcony with his Sky commentary earpiece in was a wonderfully amusing one. But behind that grumpy stare was a man with a plan – a plan to change the way Australia were playing cricket. Clearly beset by the whole bag of chips on his shoulder at not playing more Test cricket, he turned his hand to coaching and he has come at the right time. He has been brutal and brash in a time of more sensitive leadership styles. In an era of general uncertainty for Australian sport (their rugby team is useless, they haven’t got a decent tennis player and their cricket team was turning into a laughing stock) he has returned the team to basics. Eschewing the more favoured and analytical stance with an emphasis on psychology (a word that David Warner would struggle to spell let alone understand), Lehmann has returned the Australian national team back to its root, where it is more comfortable. His ‘fags and booze’ approach is something of an act and he is a clinical tactician behind it all. Most relieved are the Australia public, who were growing tired of their cricketers completing (or not completing, if you’re Shane Watson, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja) ‘self improvement assignments’. Instead now they just Pommie bash, a far more palatable national past-time.

4) England are burned out

Also, pretty much all of them have entered the worst phases of their career simultaneously, which would be impressive if it had ended after, say, the second Test. Seemingly only Ben Stokes is immune, presumably because he hasn’t been playing Test cricket long enough to have a bad trot of form, and as such has become the leading man of English cricket. This is all linked in to them being jaded – international cricket is a non-stop jamboree of touring and playing, touring and playing. This is the same for all teams, but England do play more cricket than any other nation. How else could a man play 100 Tests at 28 years of age? England are exhausted. They need a break. There has been an Ashes overload and they need to face some new opposition. The fans need a break too – the prospect of another Ashes series next summer is so unappetising it alarms me.

5) The locals

Stay classy, Australia

Stay classy, Australia

I don’t just mean the Australian players who, whilst tip-toeing the line between professional toughness and over the top histrionics, have been put to shame by the antics of the Antipodeans in the stands, in the press box, or just on the street. Whenever Mitchell Johnson tells a tailender to ‘fuck off’ after dismissing him he is celebrated in this action by the official Cricket Australia digital presence – usually in the form of a short YouTube clip that has a 10% interest in showing the action and a 90% interest in gloating. Then there’s the booing of Stuart Broad (of course encouraged by coach Lehmann) which is all just pantomime stuff – but the way the chip-paper local rag in Brisbane referred to him throughout the 1st Test (‘smug Pommy cheat’, ’27 year old English medium pace bowler’, ‘Stuart Fraud’) was a touch beyond pantomime stuff. And then all the little bits: the lovely David Warner calling Jonathan Trott ‘weak’, days before leaving the tour with a stress-related illness; the PA announcer at Alice Springs with his interesting interpretation of the rules of common decency when introducing Monty Panesar to the crease; the non-stop, tiresome, maddening, classless sledging implemented by Australia and no doubt championed by Lehmann. These have all contributed to the atmosphere of unpleasantness that has surrounded this tour and, along with the imminent 5-0 scoreline, helps me in wishing the series to be over sooner rather than later. I’m not saying that touring should be easy, nor am I saying that England haven’t given a word or two to the Australians. But winning with grace should be instilled in any sportsman from the moment they first play the game – along with an understanding of fair play. There is room in sport for competitiveness and class – and this Australian team have very little of the latter.

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Who is England’s next spinner?

22 Dec

fbe43746-7456-4985-b2c1-be51b751beeb-460x2761) Monty Panesar

Natural successor to Swann by virtue of a) his presence on the current Ashes tour and b) his 166 Test wickets. Still can’t bat and still can’t field but he’s always ‘trying’. Having said that, the balls he showed when being peppered by Mitchell Johnson during the Adelaide Test match just gone was commendable. Question marks over his mental toughness remain due to the fact that he’s cut from totally different cloth to the rest of the England team – but that doesn’t mean he isn’t good enough. At the age of 31 the England set up might want to pass an edict on his high-leaping celebrations to preserve the joints, mind.

2) Danny Briggs

Played a couple of T20s and ODIs for England and is still only 22. A regular performer in the limited overs stuff for Hampshire, like Panesar he is a left arm orthodox spinner. There’s plenty of potential but he has a very long way to go until England will seriously consider him for Test cricket.

3) Scott Borthwick

Bats at 3 for Durham and rolls his arm over with some interesting leggies – he’s almost an English Steve Smith. Except Borthwick is much more than that. He’s a genuine leg spinner with over 100 first class wickets at the age of 23, and a batting average that’s at 30 and rising. It’s less his stats, more his status. He’s another prodigy from the Geoff Cook school up in Durham and, like his famous comrade Ben Stokes, his ‘ticker’ is widely praised. For those not au fait with current popular Australian slang terms being bastardised into the native English lexicon, read: guts.

4) James Tredwell

The mighty Tredders has come up the ranks at break neck speed and, although he looks like Pingu, he is probably England’s 2nd spinner now. He’s their primary tweaker in ODI cricket and a consistent performer for Kent, and proof that no matter how apparently dull you are you can make it in international cricket. I’m sure he’s not boring, and Andy Flower definitely rates him. Though that could count for precisely zilch if Flower isn’t around at the end of this series, which is looking ominously likely. The era of Giles approaches.

4) A. N. Other

That’s pretty much it, I think. There are lots of spinners around, but very few are grabbing attention. Ollie Rayner bowls orthodox off spin for Middlesex and gives the ball an almighty clatter (he’s also 6’7″ and was in born in Germany, but that’s not totally relevant) so he could be a go-er. Adil Rashid continues to thrill and torture in equal measure, as does Samit Patel for Nottinghamshire.

With Graeme Swann’s departure, England will be frantically scouring the counties for a decent spinner, but the fact is that Swann was the best English spinner since… Emburey? In years to come, we’ll look back at Jim Laker, Derek Underwood and Graeme Swann. Fact.

England’s Tour of New Zealand – the tourists

29 Mar
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cricket.yahoo.com

Given New Zealand’s preceding Test form – a patchy record with no significant positives since three series victories back to back (to back?) against Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and the West Indies between 2004 – 2006 – most were anticipating an easy English whitewash.  Coming off the back of beating India in India, a victory even more stunning given their humbling by South Africa only a few months beforehand, the English press were quick to dismiss the Kiwis as blots on the landscape as they looked towards the Ashes.  Beat New Zealand 3-0 then hammer the Aussies, without a thought for the home series against the Kiwis in between.  Oh what a difference 2 months and no wins makes.

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Life After Swann?

6 Mar
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IndianRaj.com

I posted this a few weeks ago about the future of spin bowling in England.  It was a piece written primarily for the Nottinghamshire CCC website and at the time I was blissfully ignoring the fact that Graeme Swann is actually getting old and will not be around forever.  It is crazy to think that he has only been playing for England for four years.  So given some time to think, I have come up with 3 people who I can imagine England turning to once Swann retires and shuffles off to Strictly Come Dancing/The One Show sofa/TMS/the Sky Sports commentary box.

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India v England, 3rd Test, Day 1 Review

6 Dec

Firstly, apologies for not writing this yesterday…after Day 1.  Technically, I’m no longer a lay-about, and I didn’t have time to write.  Secondly, because it seemed that reviewing the previous two Tests was well received I thought, ‘Hell, why not do it again?  You have nothing better to do in the mornings!’.  So here we go.

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India v England, 2nd Test, Day 4 Review

26 Nov

England wrapped up a thumping victory in Mumbai on the fourth day by 10 wickets, as Cook and Compton chased down the paltry target of 57.  In a victory even more monumental than India’s win in Ahmedabad, the tourists tied the series 1-1 with two Tests still to play.

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India v England, 2nd Test, Day 3 Review

26 Nov

England took a stranglehold on the 2nd Test in Mumbai as Kevin Pietersen and Monty Panesar starred on a great day.  Beginning the day on 178/2, both Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen completed their centuries, only for England to have a middle-order collapse – from 382/6 to 413 all out.  Just 86 runs behind England, India staggered to 117/7 at the close, as England sniffed the chance to complete the victory with a day to spare.

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