0International Cricket Council logoTest match cricket — how do we save it?

Back in March last year (wow, really that long ago??) I penned a brief missive about the future of test match crick­et and what might hap­pen to the game in the years to come. Inspired by watch­ing a fas­cin­at­ing dual between bat and ball as Bangladesh took on Sri Lanka I waxed lyr­ic­al about the game and the subtle battles and tac­tic­al rami­fic­a­tions that make test crick­et, well test­ing. Unfor­tu­nately, you may recall dear read­er, the art­icle was nev­er­the­less based on a sad note – the crowd – or more accur­ately the lack of the crowd – rejoicing in the con­test.

Many wise (and some unwise) sages have put their think­ing caps on to pon­der how to bet­ter push the claims of test match crick­et. Test match crick­et is a dis­cip­line that must not be allowed to die. It is the very essence of crick­et and at the very apex of the won­der­ful game. If test match crick­et dies then so too does the heart and soul of the sport.… Read Full Art­icle

0England in need of Moore summer class

Apo­lo­gies one and all for a lack of recent mus­ings – it’s all due to a new arrival in the house­hold which has meant my wak­ing (and sleep­ing) hours are com­pletely dom­in­ated by bottle feed­ing ses­sions and nappy changes – yes a little bambino has arrived. Give her about 18 years and she’ll be play­ing for Eng­land.
Any­way; to busi­ness.
Well, to para­phrase Wil­li­am Shakespeare some­what, that was a winter of dis­con­tent for Eng­land. After pretty inept per­form­ances in the Ashes most would have thought it couldn’t get any worse. It did – the humi­li­at­ing defeat against the Neth­er­lands (even if it was a ‘dead rub­ber’) prov­ing the coup de grâce. Before and since that final sham­bol­ic out­ing there have been some high pro­file cas­u­al­ties — gone are coach Andy Flower, middle order main­stay Jonath­an Trott and spin king Graeme Swann. And then of course there is the whole saga around Kev­in Pietersen. Glove­man Matt Pri­or will also be nervously look­ing over his shoulder as oth­ers threaten his place in the side.… Read Full Art­icle

0Dickie Bird to officiate over native Yorkshire

There’s an old anec­dote in the crick­et­ing career of Har­old ‘Dick­ie’ Bird in which he hit a cen­tury for York­shire in one match and found him­self dropped for the next.

With an aver­age just over 20 his first-class career was hardly spec­tac­u­lar but as an inter­na­tion­al umpire he went on to argu­ably be the best in the busi­ness.

He was well liked and enter­tain­ing, bring­ing his nat­ive York­shire straight talk­ing no non­sense approach to the pitch. Dick­ie was also seen as com­pletely neut­ral who­ever was play­ing, des­pite a deep-rooted love of both county and coun­try.… Read Full Art­icle

0Australia steam on in battle against Proteas

When Eng­land squared up to Aus­tralia in the last Ashes series I, like many, thought the vis­it­ors would retain the urn dur­ing the five match series. It was always going to a tough­er battle than the sum­mer show­down but vic­tory was expec­ted.

Play­er for play­er Eng­land were just too strong, weren’t they? At the time, with the standout excep­tion of middle-order maes­tro Michael Clarke, a com­bined XI of the two sides would have been dom­in­ated by the three lions. Oth­er than skip­per Clarke who would have made the com­bined side? Per­haps Dav­id Warner for Michael Car­berry? A fit Ryan Har­ris in for either Chris Trem­lett or Tim Bresnan? Cer­tainly the former, prob­ably the lat­ter. A place for Shane Wat­son? Maybe – but who would he replace? On the face of it, how­ever, Eng­land cer­tainly appeared the stronger out­fit.… Read Full Art­icle

2England and Wales Cricket Board logoAll new England, without KP

In the biggest crick­et news of the day Eng­land have announced Kev­in Pieterson will no longer be in their plans, effect­ively sack­ing their lead­ing bats­man.  This has finally triggered me to write my first art­icle since the dis­astrous Ashes series began nearly 2 months ago.  I’d like to give you fair warn­ing read­er, that as hard as I try to always be pos­it­ive about the great game there are occa­sion­al days where what needs say­ing just doesn’t feel very pos­it­ive.  This is one of them…

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0Ashes to Ashes, England to Dust

For what I am about to say may I be struck down from above…but I am glad that this Ashes series is at an end. Quite simply Aus­tralia have played far bet­ter than the sum of their indi­vidu­al parts and Eng­land have been, for the large part, abso­lutely diabol­ic­al.

As sure as night fol­lows day the Aus­sies wrapped up a dev­ast­at­ing 5–0 series win, yet again bowl­ing Eng­land out for a piti­ful total not worthy of an inter­na­tion­al line up. The vis­it­ors now need to go back, re-group and pick up the pieces from this poten­tially dis­astrous tour down-under.… Read Full Art­icle

0Australia Boxing Clever

Eng­lish win­ters are a ter­rible thing. Cold and wet, the sea­son also means no home crick­et what­so­ever.

Christ­mas is one shin­ing light in the fog of the cold and to add to this the thought of an annu­al test match that starts on Box­ing Day and usu­ally held under blue skies and warm tem­per­at­ures is one that stirs the ima­gin­a­tion and one that I will raise a cold beer to.

Box­ing Day tests have been held every year since 1980 (except 1989 when a one day match vs Sri Lanka was played instead (boo – ed) and at the Mel­bourne Crick­et Club in Aus­tralia – aka the MCG). They have also been dom­in­ated by some massive crowds (which have approached six fig­ures on occa­sion).… Read Full Art­icle

0Graeme Swann announces immediate retirement

Amongst the wreck­age of the Ashes tour comes anoth­er seis­mic bomb­shell — the best Eng­lish spin­ner in a gen­er­a­tion has handed his tick­et in.

Yes it’s true — Graeme Swann has announced his imme­di­ate retire­ment. What a massive loss. Swann was a great play­er, com­pet­it­or, fight­er and all-round team man. He could even hold a bat the right way round.

Hav­ing taken 255 wick­ets in his test career at a shade under 30 a piece, his record is there for all to see and it’s going to be very hard to replace him. As always with Eng­land there’s hardly a queue of spin­ners banging down the door to take his place in the side. So does that mean we go back to the days of only ever pick­ing a twirler when the pitch suits rather than a first choice?… Read Full Art­icle

0Australia urn their easy Ashes victory

With a ruth­less determ­in­a­tion and a killer instinct worthy of a wolf chas­ing a wounded deer, Aus­tralia duly com­pleted the rout of a demor­al­ised Eng­land this morn­ing.

Eng­land simply haven’t turned up this series and a reju­ven­ated Aus­tralia have preyed on every weak­ness and every fail­ing to humi­li­ate what is still a pretty good side.

Win­ning a fourth con­sec­ut­ive Ashes series was a pretty tall order and it was one that was bey­ond Eng­land. The urn now returns to Aus­tralia (fig­ur­at­ively speak­ing, any­way!) and we no doubt won’t hear the end of it from our cous­ins on the oth­er side of the plan­et.

As Cook admit­ted in his post-match press con­fer­ence, Eng­land have been out­played in all areas and will, I sus­pect, claim a 5–0 tri­umph. It’s simply not their style to take their foot off the gas. The wolf has caught the prey, now he wants to fin­ish every last tasty morsel.… Read Full Art­icle

1England — just what is up??

What has happened to Eng­land? In the last two tests they have been appalling. I can’t think of any pos­it­ives to take out of either game.

The bat­ting line up has been short of runs for some time now. The bowl­ers won the Ashes for Eng­land last time round, des­pite the best efforts of the much her­al­ded bat­ting line up to snatch defeat from the jaws of vic­tory (the won­der­ful Bell aside) and now, in Aus­trali­an con­di­tions, Eng­land are really up against it. The bats­men are con­tinu­ing to struggle but what is most wor­ry­ing is the way they are get­ting out – care­less and lazy shots and a lack of applic­a­tion. You expect fire­works from Kev­in Pieterson early on in an innings but not the oth­ers.… Read Full Art­icle