Friday, 14 August 2009

Emergency selection - an English viewpoint

Emergency selection - an English viewpoint

It’s like the good old bad days. Not for a while have England entered the latter stages of a Test series in disarray with talk of a team overhaul in the air. The humiliation at Headingley was so bad that the demand for Mark Ramprakash is entirely understandable.

The mirth this is causing in the Australian camp and media is equally justified. It does reveal a degree of panic that suggests the home side are in no fit state to win back the urn. Bringing back a batsman who hit two tons in his previous 52 Tests, just short of his 40th birthday can only really be described as a panicked, emergency selection.
But that is the scenario England have played themselves into. They were not just beaten at Leeds, they were hammered, the match lasting less than 200 overs – I should know, I was there for the brief third day. Money not very well spent.
Although the proposed selection of Ramprakash reveals the dearth of batting talent in this country, it should be remembered that the Surrey run machine is a special case for a special occasion.
Ramprakash is far more likely to score significant runs at the Oval than Ravi Bopara or Ian Bell, helping England to upset the Fifth Test odds (http://betting.betfair.com/cricket/2009-ashes/ashes-odds-australia-favourites-to-retain-the-urn-090809.html) in the process. That is why he is being considered. Rob Key and Jonathan Trott are in the frame for the same reason, and, for the record, it's a far safer Oval Test bet (http://betting.betfair.com/cricket/2009-ashes/) that they will get the nod.
The 16 runs England’s three, four and five amassed from their six innings at Headingley is the lowest ever by an English middle order in Test cricket. Change is needed.
Any Aussies getting carried away by England’s predicament should note their own team’s selectorial issues. At least Ramprakash has not been touting himself for a recall like Justin Langer, who seems determined to get involved in the series in one way or another. Just make do with taking the Don’s first class run scoring record Justin.
Stuart Clark should not have been left out in the first place and the success of Shane Watson as a makeshift opener should not disguise the Phillip Hughes mistake – dropping a young gun after three innings is as English a knee-jerk reaction as you would ever wish to see.
It would be typical of Ramprakash’s England career if the selectors manage to time his return to guarantee the most possible pressure. One Test, an Ashes decider, with only one other batsman in nick; no pressure Ramps.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Out with the new and in with the old

I love English cricket. The way over-reaction leads to rediculous decision-making. Can someone clarify for me: Mark Ramprakash has been playing 2nd Division County cricket, has he not? Wow, maybe look to England under 17s and give one of those blokes a go. Tescothic has retired from test cricket but his name is thrown around. Why not ask Gooch to come back: Alderman isn't playing this time. Perhaps Gatting is worth an ask: no Warne. Is there a decendant of WG Grace that they could call? Wait, I know - who was that bloke that was brought out to Aus during a tour in the 70s who was in his 40s? That's right: Cowdrey - the bloke who introduced himself to Thommo at the non-striker's end with "Good afternoon, my name's Cowdrey".

Bopara has been a disaster in every innings he's played. Bell's selection was doomed from the start as he is, um, well he's just not very good at batting is he? Cook looks like the Cook of old and Collingwood will hang around for you but as we don't have untimed tests anymore he's unlikely to make a 100. It is a real worry that the guys who are in the side for bowling and keeping are doing a better job than the batsmen. One article I've seen has suggested Prior should move up the order. What a great idea! Make him face the new ball as he's been swinging 40s off 30 balls he should open!

If I bet on cricket I'd put alot of money on Australia for the Oval. England will not come back from here as it's impossible to see where the spark will come from. With Johnson you knew if he could land it better he'd get results. Onions and Anderson need it to swing to get anything. As I remember 2005 I do not feel at all sorry for England but it is a shame that Strauss will be forever remembered for this series. The pressure on the guy to make runs and hold a fragile team together must be immense. Since he granted a last minute inclusion of Manou I've got respect back for his character (after the 'physio' incident). I'm not so sure of his batting. Short of a length outside off makes him want to play his favourite shot - the cut. It's done him a couple of times by getting big on him and being a little too close for the shot. Cook looks like his feet weigh 75 kilos when he moves forward to defend on the off-side.

To Fred or not to Fred. Sort of elementary as I'd give my wine collection to my worst enemy if he isn't picked. Harmison blew his chance to impress so he'll go out. But it's the batting that's the main problem: how the hell can England make 400? Even if they bat first I'd still back Aus to win comfortably. I know this is cocky but what I saw of the 4th test: England looked scared like 06/07. Imagine Siddle, Johnson, Clark and Hilfenhaus watching Bopara or Bell coming out to bat. They'd be gagging to get the ball in their hands like I do when my grandma gets to the crease.

As you can tell I'd go with an unchanged 11. I said before the 4th test that Aus should go all pace and blow England out of the water. I feel the same about the Oval. It doesn't appear that Watson can be trusted with overs so 3 quicks is thin in my opinion. Sorry Hauritz as I've been very impressed by how you've answered your many critics (myself included). I'd rather get Clarke or Katich to bowl a few part-timers than Hussey or Watson. In fact I'd rather Hussey didn't play at all but we won't go there again.

Oh, and I just thought of another player England could call up. Is Douglas Jardine still alive?

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Now What???

After a colossal win with everyone contributing, we now have a week or so off then its on to the Oval for the showdown...
Engerland is tipped to make sure that the pitch turns, so Hauritz presumably comes back in...
Who for?
Teams please (or inclusions and omissions at least)

Sunday, 9 August 2009

English Fairy Tales

Two things are apparent at Headingley but they are not revelations. For twenty years these particular truths have been constantly reaffirmed in Ashes cricket. Firstly, never underestimate an Australian side's ability to lift off the canvas and completely crush their opponent and secondly, never imagine you've seen the worst English performance ever. Allied to the latter is the truth to Ian Botham's "pink gin" claim years ago in reference to those who run the English game. At Headingley, with a series win safely in both hands and admittedly without their two best players, the English selectors picked an unbalanced team and will leave the players to pay the price.

With their second innings in tatters at 5-82 and no batsmen left, the game will be over by lunch tomorrow, providing deserved time off for the players and an early night for dedicated Australian fans.

England have provided Australia with the way back into this series which will be one-all after a seven session Test. The momentum once with Australia will not be headed by the English who have been run down by this steam roller before. Its just so sad their selectors and officials staked them out in its path. Apart from anything else, they'll be refunding a lot of revenue in unused tickets. A nice day to go for a walk and find yourself an Englishman.

More details at http://thecricketragics.blogspot.com/