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July 2008
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Daniel Brigham: Collingwood or Gallian? You decide…

July 29th, 2008 by Daniel Brigham in England, South Africa in England, Test cricket and tagged , , , , , , ,

“His fielding, his energy, and his bowling on this type of wicket could be useful if it swings,” said Michael Vaughan about Paul Collingwood’s return to the Test side. Just don’t mention the batting.

He wasn’t deemed good enough for Headingley, so how has he then become good enough to play at Edgbaston?

When Collingwood was dropped, it was hard to see how he deserved a place in the squad, let alone the team. Especially when you consider that Owais Shah, Rob Key and Ravi Bopara all produced dynamic, inspired performances in front of TV cameras this week - as they have been doing all season.

The man he’s come in for – Stuart Broad – is also in much better form with the bat. So, by bringing back a batsman for a bowler, England appear to have actually weakened their batting. Not strengthened it.

“He’s just a good man to have around the team, because he’s very mature and a good thinker of the game”, says Vaughan on Collingwood. That’s OK then, good to know that form and ability doesn’t come into it, as long as he’s a good man.

Essex’s Jason Gallian is a very nice man and very mature, but he hasn’t played a Test for 13 years. I wonder if Gallian feels let down by the selectors and Vaughan.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, South Africa in England, Test cricket | 11 Comments »

Performance of the week: Rob Key

July 29th, 2008 by Edward Craig in County cricket, Twenty20 and tagged , , , ,

5. Rob Key - 52, Kent v Middlesex, Twenty20 final, The Rose Bowl, 26 July 2008

He may have ended up on the losing side, he may not have been as explosively entertaining as Owais Shah but Rob Key’s performance in the Twenty20 Cup final was like eating a three-course meal in a greasy spoon.

Food has always been part of Key’s character and despite being a svelte version of his less athletic self, he’s still no Audrey Hepburn. So when he bats with such grace and flair, it always seems incongruous. Those of us who don’t get down to Canterbury regularly forget the elegance and style he plays with; timing, placement, a unique, flowing technique.

And added to that is intelligence. His 52 off 30 balls contained no bludgeoning sixes or smeared fours. He played the situation, timing boundaries when needed, and if he’d cashed in twice that over, he’d take three singles and avoid any further risk. He scored quickly and quietly - yet hit nine fours and a six.

He was also the only player to overcome the suffocating Middlesex spin with careful reverse and slog sweeps - if there is such a thing. Okay, Kartik got him in the end but Kartik’s send-off was met with such a withering stare that, even at his dismissal, he retained the moral high-ground.

He captained well while looking like a shambling farmer’s son. He retained his good humour throughout, especially when asked about the potential cash involved, yet he seemed the most distraught Kent player when Middlesex won.

Key seemed the most honest and level-headed player of real ability in the country.

Perhaps he should captain it …

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in County cricket, Twenty20 | 12 Comments »

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