Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's just not cricket

To be honest, I didn't have high hopes before this Ashes series, and now they seem to have totally crumbled. Into ashes, as it were. I was pleasantly surprised to hear about Collingwood's double century in the first innings, particularly as he first got into the side by being a so-called "bits and pieces all-rounder". I also like that he's a Durham player, like Harmison, and Durham are not known as the best county side ever. Still, I might have known that it was too good to be true.

Reading comments on the BBC's Test Match Special blog reveals a variety but also a consensus of opinion.

Giles should be dropped and replaced with Panesar. I'm a fan of Giles, but even I have to admit that since his return to the side he hasn't performed at all well. Panesar's fielding isn't great, but he's much more of an attacking bowler than Giles.

The captaincy should be passed to Strauss until Vaughan returns to the side. I heartily agree with this. Flintoff possesses the ability to inspire his colleagues with the will to win, but tactically, he seems to be very limited. Tony Greig commented recently, in response to criticism about Flintoff's triple role, that most cricket captains are batsmen and have little experience of the ball. What he fails to understand, however, is that, without any tactical thought, it doesn't matter whether you can bowl, bat and keep wicket: you'll still be a rubbish captain. Steve Waugh, for example, was not a bowler, yet no-one ever suggested that he was not a great captain. I like Richie Benaud's comment that "captaincy is 90% luck and 10% skill - but don't try it without that 10%."

Fletcher needs to seriously consider his options for the next Test. He needs to be tough, and make players carry the can for their failures, rather than saying lamely that no-one was to blame.

It's easy to say, from our vantage point, that the England team are a bunch of wusses who capitulated to Aussie pressure. The pressure was there, certainly. Self-belief was probably not exactly high after the first Test. The point remains however, that England should have won the match. Their bowlers need to start taking twenty wickets in the match (Hoggard excepted - he at least performed well), and the batsmen need to stop throwing their wickets away.

Still, having read all this over, I can't help thinking to myself: oh, it's only a game. So what? And yet... I hope that the team can pick themselves up and win the next match. But I expect they won't. If England are to avoid a whitewash, I can only see the Aussies losing - not England winning.


At Thu Dec 07, 08:31:00 am, Blogger Who is this Dave? said...

Yes indeed. Given that they're unlikely to select me, I have to entirely agree with you here.

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