Thursday, November 23, 2006

Reflections on Disappointing First Day

As a carefree student I remember staying-up late and listening to Michael Slater smashing the first delivery of the 1994-5 series for 4. That set the tone for the entire series as Australia ran out 3-1 winners. England were fortunate to get the 1. Over 10 years later, as a responsible Local Government Officer, I stayed up to see Harmison's first delivery going straight to slip. Plus ca change, plus ca la meme chose.

When I saw James Andersen miss a possible run out by a country mile and going for an other-throw, I went to bed. My hope of England retaining the Ashes have been replaced by the aspiration that the series will at least be competitive.

I can deal with despair it is hope I can't stand.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Boost For England: Trescothick Going Home

By returning home Trescothick has made the greatest contribution that he could possibly have made to England’s cause. It has been apparent to all but the selectors that he has been hopelessly out of form and to have forced him to continue his run of failures in the most eagerly awaited series in a generation would surely have been in contravention of his Human Rights. I am relieved to have been saved from the torture of watching any more single figure scores from a fallen giant, with feet (or should that be footwork?) of clay.

This is the second time he has quit an England tour because he can’t handle the pressure and the kindest thing for the selectors to do would be to thank Tresco for his memorable contributions in the past but make it clear that his international career is over. To be blunt he is an unreliable liability and must not prevent the progress of players like Alastair Cook.

I would strongly recommend Robert Key to replace Trescothick in the squad. This would be his second tour to Australia and he has been on the fringes of the side for some time. He deserves his chance.

Friday, November 10, 2006

England Fall At First Hurdle

The England selectors have many questions to ponder following their sides humiliating 166 run defeat by the President's XI, starting with "who agreed this tour schedule?" To prepare properly for the 1st Test England need to play 4 day games against weak-medium strengthened opposition, not a one-day match against an Australian A team. I doubt that Australia would have accepted a similar tour opener that could only serve the interests of the home team.

Other questions include:
  • Who is going to open with Strauss in the 1st Test?
  • Who will keep wicket?
  • Who will be selected as spinner?

This disadvantage with having 16 players who all have a chance of making the final XI is the inevitable uncertainty of an unsettled team. England won the Ashes by selecting 12 players for the 5 match series, the only change being forced on them by injury. The selectors need to take a deep breath, decide on their starting XI and then ensure that these players get as much match practice as possible. That team should be:

  • Strauss
  • Cook
  • Bell
  • Pietersen
  • Collingwood
  • Flintoff
  • Read
  • Mahmood
  • Hoggard
  • Harmison
  • Panesar

Injuries and a poor selection policy have ensured that less than half these players can feel assured of the place in the team. This more than any other factor makes England the underdog for the coming series.