Tag Archives: retirement

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.

The Age of Kohli

1 Nov

168917At 24, Virat Kohli has achieved a lot. He is hurtling towards 5000 ODI runs, has just notched up his 17th century, has 4 Test centuries to accompany them and a lucrative deal with his IPL franchise, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, sees him captain a group of superstars. His brash manner on the pitch and his mannerisms off it have earned him a reputation as a bad boy, as well as plenty of adoring fans. He is the modern day Indian rock-star – with all the skill to set the world alight.

And it all started so gloriously inauspiciously, too. He scored 10 on his First Class debut against Tamil Nadu in 2006 (aged 18), did not bat on his List A debut and made 35 on his T20 debut a year later. In 2008 he made his ODI debut, and again failed, scoring just 12 against Sri Lanka. Two years later on his T20 international debut he scored 28* to win the game against a weak Zimbabwean team and when he got his Test cap in 2011, again, it was an occasion to forget. He scored 4 and 15 against the West Indies, and it didn’t get much better in the 2nd and 3rd games of that series – a sum total of 57 runs in 3 innings summed up a miserable start to his Test career.

Read the rest of the article here!

The legacy of Harmy

7 Oct

article-1203695-038B35C1000005DC-913_233x423The 7-12 claimed by Steve Harmison in 2004 will most likely remain one of my most treasured cricketing memories. One could relate to him and identify with him. His rise to the top of the world rankings that same year made him an enigma – some days unplayable, other days uncontrollable. And now that his day is done, let us revel in the memories of an unbeatable talent and one of England’s best quick bowlers.

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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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The End of an Era

3 Dec

The result of the match, and the series, is sort of irrelevant.  There was something more important happening, which detracted from the fact that South Africa won the Test series 1-0.  It was so moving and emotional that it distracted ones attention from a team winning in Australia, previously the Everest of overseas tours.

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