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All posts tagged: The Ashes
OUR FREE TICKETS TO THE FINAL ASHES TEST ARE STILL UP FOR GRABS THANKS TO DRIVERS JONAS - tickets will go to best comment on the blog - so give us your thoughts/feelings and best memories to be in with a chance of being at the Oval
England were comprehensively outplayed by Australia at Headingly and now must win the final Test of the series at the Oval to regain the Ashes.
There have been hysterical calls for the axeing of many of the team - although Mark Butcher laughed at the suggestion when I put it to him - that Mark Ramprakash should be called up for the match that now assumes cup final proportions.
England have said emphatically that they will not be panicked into making changes, but they must seriously look at the line up in the middle order that managed only 16 runs in the match.
However I thought the bowling was just as bad with our bowlers forgetting the basic principles of line and length. The big question for the selectors is whether they dare play the same players at the Oval after such a miserable performance as this.
Ravi Bopara got a poor decision in the second innings but that golden duck will have shattered his confidence.
I'm not happy with him batting at 3, we have to make a change.
I think he can bat, and would be a fine number five or six, but his technique is not tight enough to cope with the new ball and a pressure situation. Personally I would go for Rob Key.
He is has played test cricket, knows his game inside out, and the aussies rate him. He is also a proven three in county cricket and a calm, phlegmatic character.
I know the selectors called up Jonathan Trott at Headingly and he has been in good form, but you can not be expected to bat at three on your debut in a deciding ashes test.
It will be a week of frenzied debate about what England should or should not do before we can focus properly on what will be a wonderful sporting finale at the Oval England must try to believe the right sort of positive result is possible, they possess more of the right type of bowlers for the Oval in Flintoff, Harmison, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann than Australia.
If that's the case, and if - to use a modern cliché - those bowlers "execute their skills" correctly, then England's chances of winning back the urn may not be as improbable as the performance at Headingley suggested.
Best comment wins the tickets!
Now we have your attention and this has been highlighted in the diary pages of PW - the pressure is in for the bloggers!
Got a feeling this series is going to the wire, so those 2 tickets for day 5 at the Brit Oval could be the deciding days play.
So what we take from Edgbaston after the draw. I think that England should be pleased with a good all round performance, but I sense the momentum is now the Aussies, and we might have missed a great chance for another win.
No Haddin, no Lee, they were there for the taking. No wickets for Flintoff was a worry, but his batting was first class, and we should patch him up and get him playing. I don't fancy our chances with Trott as a replacement!
So any changes to the teams? I fancy if Flintoff is fit England will stay the same. Why change a winning team will be there view! Onions has proven his case, and now got a central contract, and it looks like Harmy is struggling with blistered feet.
Personally I'd like to see Harmy or even Sidebottom play at Headingly, we still don't look like getting 20 wickets. I think I'd be tempted to drop Broad and play one of them, probably Harmison.
So after the excellent predictions so far, what about Headingly. Well I have a feeling it is going to be a result wicket, despite some poor weather predictions.
I'd love to say an England win and wrap up the Ashes, but somehow I can't see us winning the ashes in Leeds (and that's a Yorkshire man saying this) so I'm going for an Aussie win sorry.
I think Johnson is finding form, Lee will make a big difference, and they might even play Clarke instead of the spinner. In Ponting and M Clarke they also have the best 2 batsmen on either side by a country mile.
I fear we missed our chance at Edgbaston, so an Aussie win with everything to play for at the Oval...
To get the blog back up to speed again, I thought I'd re-visit the top 10 sledges, this time just with an ashes special...
Shane Warne, Australia
"You got an MBE, right? For scoring seven at the Oval? That's embarrassing." Warne couldn't resist a little dig at Paul Collingwood in the final Test of the 2006/07 Ashes after the all-rounder had picked up a gong for being part of England's victorious 2005 squad. It rang true for many including Geoffrey Boycott who was far from impressed with the award, complaining it devalued his own OBE. For the record, Colly contributed 17 at the Oval.
Fred Trueman, England
"Don't bother shutting it, son, you won't be there long enough." It's all in the delivery, as 'Fiery' proved whether bowling or taking the mickey. The paceman couldn't resist this jibe at an incoming Aussie batsman as he trotted through the gate and out onto the hallowed Lord's turf. Self-deprecation is one thing - how often do you hear cricketers say "I'll be back in a minute"? But to be put down by England's premier strike bowler? That must hurt.
Nasser Hussain, England
"Look, I don't mind the others chirping at me but you're just the bus driver of this team. So you get back on the bus and get ready to drive it back to the hotel this evening." Our Nass was in the zone during the 1997 Ashes and not just with the bat as this retort to Justin Langer proved. The diminutive opener was chirping away after entering the fray as a substitute for Jason Gillespie in the first Test at Edgbaston when he got this volley. Nass scored 207 and didn't have to bat again as England won by nine wickets.
Ian Healy, Australia
"Let's have you right under Nasser's nose," quipped wicketkeeper Ian Healey, while placing a fielder several yards away from the bat during a warm-up game between England and Queensland at Cairns on the 1998/99 tour. Good, but probably not Heals' best. "Put a Mars bar on a good length. That should do it," he once said to Shane Warne who was trying to lure Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga out of his crease. Tasty stuff.
The heady days of 2005 inspired some delicious fare from the Barmy Army but as a put down "You're only good at swimming", heard at the Oval as England headed towards victory in the series probably tops the lot. Only the previous summer an Ian Thorpe-inspired Australia had helped themselves to 15 medals in the pool at Athens, including seven golds, while Great Britain's sum tally was two bronzes - one apiece for Stephen Parry and David Davies. But when it came to defending the Ashes, the Aussies were out of their depth.
Dennis Lillee, Australia
Few, if any, batsmen chuckled when Lillee flew into bowl but anyone capable of walking out to bat with an aluminum bat and keeping a straight face as the ball 'pinged' off it - as Lillee did in 1979 - must have a keen sense of humour. It came to the fore in 1994 during a warm-up match between England and an ACB Chairman's XI, when faced by a rather rotund Mike Gatting, Lillee said: "Move out the way, Gatt. I can't see the stumps". Lillee picked off Mike Atherton and Graeme Hick cheaply in the game while Gatt finished 16no as England won by seven wickets.
Derek Randall, England
The Centenary Test of 1977 was memorable for so many reasons - some appalling batting early on, brilliant fielding and a 45-run margin of victory for Australia that matched that of 100 years previously.
Derek Randall stole the show with a glorious 174 and fortunately had no trouble recalling his innings despite being hit on the head by Lillee. But as he explained at the time,
"It's no good hitting me there, mate, there's nothing to damage".
Bill Voce, England
While we're on the subject of physical pain, the Australians can't say they weren't warned ahead of the 1932/33 series in which England attempted to nullify Don Bradman by deploying 'bodyline' fast bowling tactics. "If we don't beat you, we'll knock your bloody heads off", Voce told Vic Richardson at the start of hostilities. "Well bowled, Harold!" Douglas Jardine reportedly said after Larwood had pummeled Bill Woodfull in the chest during the third Test at Adelaide. No quarter given, then.
Allan Border, Australia
Opponents don't come much tougher than Border, who spent much of the 1989 series with an icy expression on his focused face as he sought to erase the pain of 1985 and 1986/87. Robin Smith gave him the perfect invitation to vent his spleen during the Trent Bridge Test, when the Judge requested some light refreshment while at the crease. "What do you think this is, a tea party?" said Border. "No you can't have a glass of water. You can wait like all the rest of us." How times have changed!
Robin Smith, England
Smith was a popular fellow in 1989, it seems. At Lord's Hughes became increasingly irate as Smithy played and missed at a few, prompting the mustachioed bowler to suggest the Judge couldn't bat. Smith responded by clattering Hughes to the boundary and replying: "Hey Merv, we make a fine pair. I can't bat & you can't bowl." Take that and party. Talking of knees-ups, Hughes once said to Athers "I'll bowl you a piano. Let's see if you can play that." Sharp.
Thanks for all the comments on the accurate predictions!
I wish I had put some money on winning by lunch and a Freddie 5 wicket haul!
Great game, Strauss was proved right in not enforcing the follow on - maybe the press will leave him alone for a while now.
Pleased Freddie was man of the match but personally I would have gone for Strauss, 160 runs leading from the front.
The game was won in the first 2 days despie a little wobble! But Fred showed great heart, and as always led the bowling attack.
Swann also did well, and Anderson in the first innings, the others look weak at the moment.
Edgbaston next - probably a flat track so could be a draw, but I suspect along with others KP won't be fot, so expect a recall for Bell, and personally I would drop Onions for Harmison.
10 days with no cricket, what am I going to do?! Yes that's it - catch up on work......especially if our Managing Partner is reading this!
Another day, another week, however this Monday morning has a different feel to it doesn't it?
Whatever happens history will be made at Lords today, will England get there first Lords ashes win for over 70 years, or will the Aussies chase down the mammoth 525 to win?
Well the history of test cricket has to say England will down them out.
Teams chasing 400 to win the history of test cricket you can count on one hand, let alone 500.
An early wicket and England should polish them off - but with this Ashes series you just know it won't be that simple, there will be twists and turns all day.
The safest prediction is that it won't be a draw!!
Anyway, who am I to argue with test history, I don't think a team can get over 500 batting last in a test, so I am going for an England win with Freddie taking 5 wickets to finish his Lords career in style
Teams as predicted for Lords, we are getting quite good at this!
Australia were put to the sword for 3 hours at Lords yesterday as England finally found some batting form.
Cook and Strauss putting on 196, before Cook fell for 95.
He must have one of the worst conversion rates from 50 to 100!
Sadly at that point it all started to go wrong.
What is it with this England middle order tham they know no longer seem to be able to build a proper test innings.
They seem obsessed with boundaries from ball one and play one day innings in a test - and pay the price.
Captain Strauss the exception of course, what a great innings.
Hope he gets to 200 today - sadly I predict he'll be out early today and England will struggle to get to 450, when we should have been looking at 500 to 600.
Credit those pesty aussies, they really don't give up and they stuck to it yesterday - except Mitchell Johnson, as Boycott says, he couldn't even get my mum out! He bowled like a drain - good news for England.
Prediction of rain, and lots of it today, well its currently lovely and sunny at Lords with 30 mins to go.
Let's have your views on yesterday and where you think England will go today.
Wow, what a great test match! We thought the 2005 series would take some beating, but this has to be as good as any of those games.
Very similar to the 2005 Old Trafford Test where the Aussies hung on for a draw, this time the boot was on the other foot!
Looks like maybe we got our batting order the wrong way around as well, heroic performance from the England tail to save the draw, particularly Anderson and Monty after the heroics of Colly to bat for 6 hours.
Questions have to be asked why the top 5 can't score big innings when they are set - look at the Aussies with 4 century makers in the game.
The bowlers also need to take a long hard look at themselves, back to basics - line and length and make the opposition work for runs. Expect bowling changes for Lords but not batting, no need for wholesale changes yet - and the selectors are not that brave.
Despite Monty's batting excellence, expect him to be dropped for Onions, and possibly Broad dropped for Harmisson, but his calf niggle may result in being unfit anyway.
Back to Cardiff - well congratulations to the Welsh capital for laying on a truly test match. They have been criticised for hosting a game of this magnitude pre-ashes, but everything at the ground was excellent from the ease of access, friendly not over zealous stewarding, good catering, a good wicket, and possibly the second best walk to a test ground after Adelaide - top marks all round.
It shows the benefit of spending money on your facilities...
We were actually total sh*te and very lucky to sneak a draw - but from luck like this ashes series are won and lost - I definitely reckon we will go on and win this now!
I hope you're right Rich, I'm not so sure. What does everyone else think? Ed
Ok so 336-7 over night, advantage England I say.
Great knocks from KP and Colly and especially Prior, but can't help but feel we could and should have done better.
Lots of criticism at the ground and in the bars of Cardiff last night over kPs dismissal, but I say that's the way he is and the way he plays, he was still top scorer!
Good toss to win, need to build on this now and day 2 has started very well with Swann and Co getting the score over 430 this morning.
Need to get the spinners on now and get amongst them
Come on England.....
The Ashes is what Test cricket is all about - so says Sir Ian Botham - and who am I to disagree!
The idea of an ashes cricket blog was one of those late night Mipim conversations held with the PW journalists, yet unlike many of those conversations in the South of France this one has come to fruitition! So you may well ask why is a Marketing Director writing this cricket blog, and what credentials does he have?!?
Well, other than being an avid fan and part time player, probably in the Boycott mould of batting and in the slow right arm swing bowling mould, my pedigree is I guess in touring! Having been on the last two Ashes tours in Australia, the last 2 tours in the West Indies and the last South African tour, plus numerous home test matches, I also get involved in the world of cricket professionally through my role at DJ.
We have a specialist division called DJ Sport whose recent projects have included The Brit Oval, The Rose Bowl and Old Trafford. We are also proud community facility sponsors of Surrey Cricket Club, and over the years have also been Alec Stewarts sponsor - so what you may ask, well this have given me access to ask plenty of personalities in the world of cricket and their views for the forthcoming series.
PLAY UP PLAY UP AND PLAY THE GAME
So will the series be played in the correct Corinthian spirit of cricket? I see cricket Australia have banned the team from sledging! Well that's like asking an Irish man not to drink Guinness. I don't believe it for a minute, neither does Andrew Strauss who I see has said he expects England's mental fortitude to be severely tested by Australia, but says his team have what it takes to handle the psychological warfare. Lets hope so, as they will need it, and sledging has brought out some of the funniest cricket moments ever...I think a blog of the best cricket sledges could be a real winner...
A few of my other favourites
Rod Marsh and Ian Botham: When Botham took guard in an Ashes match, Marsh welcomed him to the wicket with the immortal words: “So how’s your wife and my kids?”
Robin Smith and Merv Hughes: During 1989 Lords Test Hughes said to Smith after he played and missed:”You can’t f (_)cking bat”. Smith to Hughes after he smacked him to the boundary: “Hey Merv, we make a fine pair. I can’t f (_)cking bat and you can’t f(_)cking bowl.”
James Ormond had just come out to bat on an ashes tour and was greeted by Mark Waugh……. MW : “F(_)k me, look who it is. Mate, what are you doing out here, there’s no way you’re good enough to play for England” JO : “Maybe not, but at least I'm the best player in my family”
Yet another Australian witticism with this time porky England batsman Mike Gatting the victim. Shane Warne, trying to tempt the batsman out of his crease mused what it took to get the plump character to get out of his crease and drive. Wicketkeeper Ian Healy piped up, “Put a Mars Bar on a good length. That should do it.”
RIGHT SAID FRED
So with one week to go until the first test in Cardiff what do we think of England's chances? Well as always the key seems to be the fitness of Freddie Flintoff, and at the moment he is doing everything asked of him, and playing in the warm up game Vs Warwickshire having a few games under his belt for Lancashire as well. His bowling won't be the problem, it never is, but we need him batting well at 6 or 7 in the order to give us the strength in depth in the batting.
Over the last week or so I've asked a few ex-players their thoughts on the likely team for Cardiff, Gooch says it is a certainty that England will play 2 spinners. Swann is first choice, with a battle for Monty and the promising Rashid for the other place. Mr G reckons it has to be Rashid and that Monty's county form this year is abysmal, so who am I to argue.
Therefore, my prediction is that the team and line up bearing late injuries for Cardiff will be Strauss, Cook, Bopara, Pieterson, Collingwood, Prior, Flintoff, Broad, Swann, Rashid and Anderson. This means with only 3 seamers we need Freddie fit and firing, can he last for 5 days? The Aussie team is much harder to call, but at the moment it looks like Watson won't be fit, so they may go with Marcus North and not play Hauritz the spinner, and possibly not even play Brett Lee - which wouldn't be a great disappointment to the England batsman.
Strauss and Cook look solid as an opening pair, Strauss has risen to the captaincy and this is bringing out the best in his form, he excelled in the West Indies over the winter. Cook is a man in form, with centuries for Essex this summer and of course for England against the West Indies. Boparo looks a class act, and could be the star of the series - his mentor Graham Gooch certainly thinks so - and he comes into the series with 3 centuries in 3 knocks earlier this summer.
KP will rise to the occasion as he always does, you suspect he has waiting for this series for 2 years and will score big to make up for disappointments over the winter. Collingwood is England's Mr Gritty, our very own Steve Waugh.
If he doesn't score heavily early in the series his place will be under threat from Ian Bell. Prior is the wicket keeper batsmen purely because of his batting, averaging over 40 in tests. No doubt he is the best batsman of the keepers, but his keeping looks poor, he probably isn't even the tenth best keeper in the country.
This brings Flintoff in at 7 which looks a better balance, good to see his 91 last week in the Twenty20 for Lancashire as his batting has been shocking, we need some lusty blows and quick runs from him. Broad looks a class act to follow, probably England's find of the last year.
His batting is solid, and his bowling needs to be accurate and tight, our very own Glen McGrath, with a surprise quicker ball. He call let Freddie and Jimmy Anderson try and blast them out.
Swann has been a revelation, although he may be an orthodox spinner, he seems to have the confidence and verbals to thrive on the pressure, expect plenty of wickets and some useful late order runs. Rashid is the surprise pick, who would have thought England might out leg spin the Australians, but he is the element of surprise on his side, did well in the Twenty20, and is a very useful late order batsman with championship hundreds to his name. This brings us to Anderson, probably our form swing bowler, he needs some cloud cover to have a stunning series - but I reckon he is worth a punt as leading wicket taker this series.
Expect Sidebottom to play on the less spin friendly pitches, and Bell to get at least 2 tests at some point....
Well like 2005 it is going to close, I certainly don't see a 5-0 win for the Aussies this time. If the sun shines in Cardiff I predict a win for England, followed by a win for the Aussies at Lords as our record there tends to be poor, I can see a draw at Edgbaston, an England win at a seaming Headingly followed by a tense draw at the Oval again - so I'm going for a 2-1 England win.
I'll be spending most of this summer either glued to the action on TV or watching in person live from the ground for the latest blog updates, starting next week with 5 days in Cardiff.
So let's hear your views on the team selection, best sledges and of course your predictions.
Just to get your juices flowing....