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January 2009
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Miles Jupp: Get some swagger Belly

January 22nd, 2009 by Miles Jupp in England and tagged , ,

Ian Bell has much to do in the Windies if he is to convince people that Owais Shah’s exclusion from the England side is justified.

On the face of it, there isn’t much missing from his game. He is technically brilliant, leaves the ball well, hits beautiful on-drives, works hard and is capable of electrifying fielding. In 45 Tests he has eight centuries, 19 fifties and a decent average of 41.27.

But there is still something he lacks. Some think he should develop Collingwood’s habit of ugly run-making. I don’t think that that’s the problem. What frustrates people about Bell is that he’s just not as good as he could be. What Bell needs is a swagger.

He’s played enough Tests to be considered a senior player but he still manages to look timid at the crease. You expect him to look to the player’s balcony and check with the captain if it would be OK to play a few shots. Even if he’s absolutely bursting for a slash I bet he waits till the end of a session just to avoid causing a fuss.

He has to let himself go in both senses. He bats a long way within himself but is capable of far more effrontery, such as the straight sixes he hit off Glenn McGrath during his torrid 2005 series.

Off the field he is a reserved man. He’s more of a blonde-highlights sort of a guy, than a peroxide streak. I’m not saying he needs to change the way he behaves all the time. It’s OK to have a nickname that is simply your own surname with a “y” at the end. He doesn’t need to start wearing diamond ear-studs or earning himself a moniker like “The Spankmeister” or “Lieutenant Fun-Time”. But I would love to see him be more full-blooded at the crease.

At this moment of presidential inaugurations, Bell should take inspiration from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s speech: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” I think that most historians would be able to tell that what FDR meant: “You’ll do a lot better trying to drive the ball straight back over the bowler’s head than you will getting half-forward and prodding defensively”.

Going in at No.3 against this West Indies side is a great chance for Bell to start showing swagger. I’ve always wanted to see him just go out there and do what he can do. I’d love Bell to succeed but I worry that if he doesn’t start showing swagger now, he’ll soon be out of favour. And it’s hard to show swagger if he’s carrying drinks.

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in England | 4 Comments »

Andrew Strauss: Why I want players to take personal responsibility…

January 22nd, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England

As I was saying to Colly, “You know old chap, it’s rather like when one was a Prefect back at Radley, one would supervise the remove while they did their prep and then there’d still be plenty of time to blow off steam before lights-out.”

And Colly – and this is SO Colly, marvellous sense of fun – Colly says: “I have no idea what you are talking about.”

Luckily, Freddie came in and explained: “He’s saying: cricket first, then piss-up.”

And in his wonderfully earthy way, Freddie was exactly right. I’ve told the chaps that it we train jolly bloody hard then there’ll be lots of time for larks too.

For instance, as a bit of a bonding exercise, I’ve already taken the fellows for a trip to the theatre. The plot was a bit challenging for a couple of the more uncomplicated guys – and I must confess I hadn’t thought of Joseph And His Technicolor Dreamcoat as a “well confusing” musical before – but we had ice creams at the interval and once I’d explained the story to Belly he seemed to settle down and enjoy the second half.

I’m very keen that players take charge of their own preparation for each match. For instance, if they can get over from India in time for a Test then so much the better. If not, well, we’ll have to mend and make do. There’s plenty of fellows who aren’t in the IPL, ICL or totally hopeless category who’d love to put themselves in the shop window with a couple of games for England.

Each and every one of these chaps in the team knows what he needs to do to be ready for a Test. Matt Prior doesn’t need me to tell him how to shout seemingly random words of encouragement. No coach could possibly train Monty to appeal for every ball that hits the cut strip. And what could I possibly teach Owais about making an orange squash? Nor does Kevin need me to tell him how good he is: he does that himself. Rather a lot, actually. Constantly in fact.

Talking of which, I would like to stress just how supportive KP has been so far. At our first meeting, up he stood and said: “Skipper, I’m right behind you.” Colly piped up: “I should keep him where you can see him, soft lad.”

Tremendous native wit these chaps have.

Alan Tyers would willingly have warmed Andrew Strauss’s loo-seat at Radley

Posted in Alan Tyers, England | 1 Comment »

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