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January 2009
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The TWC Summit: Who is in more disarray, England or Australia?

January 7th, 2009 by Sam Collins in England, Test cricket, The Ashes

It seemed like an easy question last night, but how times change.

In case you’ve been asleep for the whole day, or less likely actually doing some work, then here’s a newsflash. This morning Australia finally won a Test match against credible opposition, while English cricket stuck it’s head in a rather large blender.

So what does this mean at the start of an Ashes year? Does it actually change anything?

Are Australia suddenly now favourites again, or just treading water until another hammering in South Africa? And what next for England? A Reg Dickason – Andrew Strauss dream ticket? On today’s evidence, it’s a distinct possibility.

Who are we kidding? Nobody has a clue, least of all our panel, but they’ve been kind enough to contribute their tuppence worth below for your consideration and inevitable rejection…

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 4 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: Strauss the man with England running out of captains

January 7th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in England, Test cricket and tagged , , , ,

Whether or not Kevin Pietersen has actually resigned – and at the time of writing this was still unclear – we now know one thing for sure: England are fast running out of captains. Among the current dressing room, Andrew Strauss, Andrew Flintoff and Paul Collingwood have already done the job in various formats; and since the 2005 Ashes we can also add Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick to the list. Six skippers in 3½ years looks like an awful lot of indecision.

Speculation this morning has tossed the names of Alastair Cook and Rob Key into the equation. But while Key may have the nous and, crucially, the respect of his friend Flintoff, he is yet to convince as a batsman at the highest level. As for Cook, Gordon Brown would probably point out that now is most definitely not the time for a novice.

Since Flintoff will not be handed the armband again in a hurry and Collingwood stepped down as one-day captain in the summer because he wanted to save his career as a batsman, we are left with Strauss. Would he really be such a bad option?

In a dressing room of egos, Strauss is one of the good guys. He took one for the team by stepping side to allow Flintoff to lead England in Australia two winters ago and can point to victory over Pakistan in 2006 in his only full series in charge. Since the Ashes were won in 2005, he is the only England captain to have achieved a series win over a side other than West Indies or New Zealand. His average as captain is 55. And, crucially perhaps, he has run into form at the right time.

There are problems, of course, but then this is English cricket we are talking about and a new problem seems to crop up every day. The first is that Strauss has not played one-day international cricket since the end of the World Cup almost two years ago and England are loathe to go down the split-captaincy route so soon after uniting the different strands under Pietersen.

The second is that Strauss will need to work hard to convince one or two influential members of the side that he is the man for the job. If the past few days has taught us anything, it is that important figures can be toppled from the inside. But then if the past few years has taught us anything, it is that the very least Strauss deserves is another chance.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian. His third book, Cricket, Lovely Cricket? An Addict’s Guide to the World’s Most Exasperating Game is out now published by Yellow Jersey

Posted in England, Test cricket | 6 Comments »

Open thread: Moores, Pietersen or the ECB – Who is to blame for England crisis?

January 7th, 2009 by Sam Collins in England, Test cricket and tagged , ,

Is there a cricketing country more adept at fashioning a crisis than England?

This morning that seems impossible, as confusion reigns over the futures of both Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores.

Resignations, sackings, dressing room unrest: the full story is as yet unclear, but at the start of an Ashes year the ECB now finds itself in turmoil, all with a tour to the West Indies due to start in two weeks time.

So who do you think is to blame?

Is it Pietersen for driving a tank at a man already on the edge of a cliff, Moores for his mediocre record as coach or the ECB for allowing this mess to drag on for the best part of a week?

And what of the future for Pietersen? Is his position now untenable, and would he be justified in chasing the gold of the IPL?

Have your say below…

Posted in England, Test cricket | 11 Comments »

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