April 2009
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Alan Tyers: Key Names React To The Andy Flower Appointment

April 16th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England and tagged , , ,

Steve Harmison: “Andy has got broad shoulders. And nice long arms. That’s important in a coach, nice long arms. He could really be the sort of coach to put an arm round a player. Possibly give him a cuddle. That can make a big difference, a cuddle.”

Kevin Pietersen: “Look, today isn’t about Kevin Pietersen. It’s about Andy Flower. And how Andy Flower is going to respond to Kevin Pietersen. So, in a way, it is very much about Kevin Pietersen. I just hope Andy realises that. Kevin Pietersen certainly does, let me assure you.”

Headhunting Firm Odgers Ray & Berndtson: “The non-recruitment specialist would of course be unable to appreciate just how much expertise is required to search for months and months throughout the world of cricket before eventually appointing the man who was already doing the job. Can we have our money now, please?”

Duncan Fletcher: “I’m concerned that Andy doesn’t tick all the right boxes. Nationality: tick. Stoic nature: tick. Willingness to wear hat: tick. But why hasn’t he picked Ashley Giles at number eight? It’s a huge gamble, no doubt about it.”

Andrew Flintoff: “I voted for Snapey, personally. He’s got exactly the sort of top-level cocktail-making experience the dressing room needs.”

Ian Bell: “Changes had to be made. We were beaten heavily, again, so someone has to have a go and it was Andy’s turn.”

Sir Allen Stanford: “This guy’s as safe as the Bank Of England. Well, The Bank Of Antigua, maybe. I’ll punch anyone who says different right up their goddamn wazoo.”

Lalit Modi: “As long as any potential future IPL commitments allow, Andy is most welcome to coach England and whichever of their players are unwanted by our league.”

Hugh Morris: “Andy was categorically our first choice, and that was confirmed when we spoke to Tom Moody, Graham Ford, John Buchanan, John Dyson, Geoff Lawson and John Wright about the role but only to pick their brains about giving Andy the job because he was our first choice.”

Samit Patel: “He’s into something called ‘fitness-based coaching’ apparently. Oh great.”

By Alan Tyers

Posted in Alan Tyers, England | 2 Comments »

John Stern: Flower may be right man for England but ECB still frustrate

April 15th, 2009 by John Stern in England and tagged , , , ,

The ECB may well have got the right man but their methods, not for the first time, leave something to be desired.

A global search for the best man for the job, led by hotshot headhunters Odgers Ray and Berndtson, has brought them back to their own doorstep. Hugh Morris, the England team managing director, won’t say how many were on the shortlist or which other men were actually interviewed for “reasons of confidentiality”. That old one. The ECB still haven’t satisfactorily explained why Peter Moores was sacked in January and Kevin Pietersen forced to resign as captain at the same time.

It is believed that John Wright was interviewed on the phone and that’s it. On the phone? For a job that pays the thick of a quarter of a million quid? The whole headhunters and shortlist business looks like smoke and mirrors. They wanted to give Flower the job from day one and this whole process simply bought the ECB time to see how Flower coped in the West Indies.

It also bought Flower time, we learned today, to see if he even wanted to apply for the job which is understandable given that, along with Moores, he had been on Kevin Pietersen’s blacklist.

Flower’s press conference at Lord’s today revealed precious little other than thoughtfulness and honesty. He declined to answer a number of questions about things like selection, central contracts and specific strategies but he did so politely and apologetically. What he didn’t do was bulls**t nor did he waffle on in rehearsed-speak.

He is an impressive individual and it is perfectly plausible to imagine him being excellent at his new job. But there are two things we don’t know. One is whether he really is the best man for the job because it seems the ECB haven’t properly examined all the other options and the other is whether Flower’s appointment will actually make any difference. The coach’s role in cricket is still so vague and intangible compared to that of a football manager.

One final thought: Flower talked about wanting “players to be challenging themselves” and fitness being “non-negotiable”. Common-sense thoughts but haven’t we heard them somewhere before? Maybe it is all about presentation. Maybe Flower isn’t that different to Moores he just communicates in a different way. Same message, different method.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

You can read what the TWC summit make of Flower’s appointment here

Posted in England | 1 Comment »

The TWC summit: Is Andy Flower the right choice for England?

April 15th, 2009 by TWC in England and tagged , , ,

So England have appointed Andy Flower, not as their new coach, but as their new team director of cricket. But is there more to Flower than tough talking and a name that delights the headline-writers? Was he really the best man the ECB could find? For all the inside praise of his good work in the Caribbean, England’s batsmen have markedly failed to improve under his tuition and his close links with the previous regime raise questions of whether much has changed within Team England at all.

You can read what John Stern has to say on the appointment here, but our panel are bursting to add their tuppence below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in England | 2 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: Self-styled scapegoat Bell talking a bad game

April 15th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in England, Test cricket

Getting dropped can be a good thing. Andrew Flintoff came back fitter and leaner after his early battles with the bulge, and managed to convince us he was sticking to cranberry juice. Andrew Strauss has scored seven hundreds in 17 Tests and averaged 54 since he was left out of the tour of Sri Lanka in December 2007. Hell, even Don Bradman was dropped once. But – and I know it’s the question on everyone’s lips – what will happen to Ian Bell?

This blog has already compared and contrasted Bell with Paul Collingwood, his statistical – but not temperamental – near-equal. When Collingwood was one innings away from the chop, he made 135 against South Africa at Edgbaston. When Bell was in a similar position, he scored 28 and 4 against West Indies in Jamaica, getting out both times with an interval approaching and, in the second innings, kickstarting a collapse that ultimately cost England the series. If the timing and execution of that limp cut shot were revealing in their own way, what happens next will reveal even more.

The first step after being dropped – no mean feat for an England batsman of recent vintage – is to accept the error of your ways. Which is why the interview Bell gave to Cricinfo during last week’s game between MCC and Durham at Lord’s was mildly alarming.

Here is what he is quoted as saying about his omission after the Kingston fiasco: “Changes had to be made. It’s difficult: no one got any runs and we were beaten heavily so someone had to go and it was my turn. In the warm-up games the runs came, but obviously I just had that one opportunity in Jamaica and we didn’t play well as a side so changes had to be made.”

You don’t have to read between the lines to discern the sub-text: Bell regards his dropping as a selectorial game of black jack in which he just happened to be unlucky enough to be dealt the wrong card. He believes it was “my turn”; he reckons he “just had that one opportunity”; he paints himself as the scapegoat, taking one for a struggling team.

Only later in the interview (“I have a record I can improve on and I’m desperate as hell to get back into the team”) is there any acknowledgement of a talent that risks going to waste, that has scored one half-century in 12 Test innings since apparently breaking through with 199 against South Africa at Lord’s, that looks better than anyone in England when he is on song. And this is the side of Bell we need to hear more of, the side which also told Sky Sports “I do kick myself sometimes”.

If Bell genuinely feels picked on, he needs his agent and advisor Alec Stewart – dropped more than once in an era when the selectors were far less patient than they are now – to take him to one side and gently point out he doesn’t know he was born. Because until he is able to shed what sounds suspiciously like a sense of grievance, there is no way he can address the issues that cost him his spot in the first place.

As we’ve said before, if the stylish Bell could distil Collingwood’s substance, England would have a world-beater on their hands.

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 | 4 Comments »

The TWC interview: Jamie Dalrymple

April 14th, 2009 by Sam Collins in County cricket, Interview

Jamie Dalrymple has been appointed captain of Glamorgan for the 2009 season. He has made 27 ODI appearances for England, the last coming in England’s defeat to the West Indies at the World Cup in 2007. He began his career at Middlesex before moving to Glamorgan at the beginning of the 2008 season. He was talking to Sam Collins.

How was your winter?

The squad went on a pre-season trip to Cape Town for two weeks. We played against a few of the academies out there and the Holland national side who were warming up for the World Cup qualifiers – varied opposition but it was great to be outside playing on grass, which makes you more ready to go when you get back.

Was captaincy on your mind when you decided to move from Middlesex?

No. I left because I wanted to get my cricket back in my own hands in a positive environment and just get back to batting, bowling and fielding. It’s something that developed and I’m very excited to be given the opportunity. I’m blessed with a very good bunch of guys and a lot of talented young players down here.

Why do England suddenly have so much depth in the spin department?

There’s been an England spin coach (ECB performance director David Parsons) in place for a couple of years now and that is indicative of this focus on spin. Spinners in county cricket have been seen to do well, spinners have also contributed hugely in T20 cricket which is a big part of the game now. When there is a focus on something you suddenly find that it starts developing.

Have you personally benefited from David Parsons’ regime?

I had a very good time when I was up at the Academy two or three winters ago. That was useful for me. I have not bowled as many overs as I would have liked in the last couple of seasons. I am very much at the stage now where I just want to get overs under my belt again and get back on the right road.

How much of a fillip is it for Glamorgan hosting an Ashes Test?

It’s fantastic that the cricket is coming down to Glamorgan, and that we’ve got an excellent stadium as well to generate the interest. From the county perspective we are hoping that the increased attention is going to help drag the crowds down to us again. If we drive our performance levels up, then no doubt the support will come in. The atmosphere down here is fantastic. People are going to get quite a surprise when England get up and running. If they play well down here they will find themselves in a great atmosphere.

How have the Welsh accepted you?

They’ve been very good to me. They left me alone after the Six Nations last year, and this year England finished second while they finished fourth which has made it even more bearable.

Who is your best friend in cricket?

Ed Joyce – formerly of Middlesex and now of Sussex. I hope he can get back into the England set-up. Ed is an absolutely top-class player when he is playing well, and it will be good to see him with a smile on his face batting long periods of time again.

Sam Collins is web-editor of thewisdencricketer.com

Posted in County cricket, Interview | 1 Comment »

Miles Jupp: Don't answer the door

April 9th, 2009 by Miles Jupp in England, Miscellaneous, Test cricket and tagged , , , ,

I have not had a great deal of luck with hat-tricks over the years. This week I failed to see Andrew Flintoff’s and I’d previously missed watching Darren Gough’s against Australia in ‘99, and Dominic Cork’s against the West Indies in ’95. I was probably asleep during Gough’s escapade in Sydney, but I was definitely awake for Cork’s and that is the one that disappointed me the most.

When I was a teenager we had, at home, a second television. It wasn’t a very fancy one. We had, in fact, inherited it from my grandfather. The whole contraption was about the size of a photocopier, gave off a strong smell of bakelite if it was on for longer than 15 minutes, and had a screen not much bigger than that of a digital watch.

You were supposed to be able to change the channels by turning a dial on the front, although this part of the equipment was rather sensitive, so you could also change channels by getting up out of your chair quickly or walking across the room. Although it had the word “COLOUR” emblazoned above the screen, it in fact flickered intermittently between black and white and colour, and didn’t show an image at all if you stood too near it. It was, with the benefit of hindsight, an astonishingly rubbish, and probably somewhat life-threatening, piece of equipment.

Its greatest attribute was that everyone else in the house was terrified of it, and so I was able to lug it up to my bedroom on the top floor. It was my television, on which I could watch whatever I wanted without having to argue with brother or my parents. This meant that instead of going train surfing or daubing graffiti on bus stops, I could watch cricket in my bedroom, just as long as I was prepared to endure the upsetting speed at which it flickered and the worrying headaches that it caused. This was the television on which I should have watched Dominic Cork’s hat-trick.

I’d happily caught all of the first three days of that Fourth Test uninterrupted. I’d seen wickets for Cork and Fraser in the first innings and a delightful 94 from Graham Thorpe. John Emburey was making one of those little comebacks that he made in the Atherton era. And on the Sunday morning I sat down to watch the first over and the door bell rang. I ignored it. Then it rang again. And again. The rest of my family were at home as well and I was definitely the furthest from the door bell. I knew they had all definitely heard the door bell, because they were all shouting “door bell” up the stairs to me. I stomped down the stairs with an acute sense of martyrdom past the rest of my family who were all engrossed in activities that they felt precluded them from opening the front door – pairing socks, brushing teeth or reading NME.

After opening the door to discover a friend of my brother, I returned upstairs in time to see John Crawley wrapping his arms around an ecstatic Cork while David Gower roared triumphant commentary. This seemed a bit over the top, I thought, before I noticed the score in the top right hand corner and everything became clear.

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in England, Miscellaneous, Test cricket | 2 Comments »

John Stern: Wisden almanack continues to be worthy celebration of the game

April 9th, 2009 by John Stern in Miscellaneous and tagged , , , ,

There is something gravity-defying about the annual fuss that surrounds the launch of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack.

A few years ago, Malcolm Speed, then chief executive of the ICC, suggested publicly (probably in response to a bagging from Wisden) that it was time for the cricket world to take a little less notice of it.

In truth, the wider world of cricket doesn’t take a huge amount of notice. But in the UK, year after year, the launch of Wisden prompts a remarkable tally of column inches.

Sometimes it seems bizarre, anachronistic even. At other times, entirely justified. This year’s big story was Claire Taylor, the England World Cup winner, becoming the first woman to be one of the Five Cricketers of the Year. It is perhaps remarkable in many ways that she is the first but the fact remains she – and the Almanack – have broken new ground.

Although Wisden is an Anglo-centric publication, it does not have a narrow focus. No stone in the cricket world is left unturned and this really is Wisden’s charm. There are the Editor’s Notes, of course, there are the high-profile contributors, (Michael Vaughan has a piece in this year’s book), and the wealth of stats, records and chapter and verse on the English season. But there are hidden gems like Cricket Round the World where on the same page you can read about the game in El Salvador, Hungary and Ghana. There is the Index of Unusual Occurrences which is always a joy.

Wisden, despite its serious tone and its biblical reputation, is above all a celebration of the game in all its forms. And that’s why it endures and why people, in this multimedia age, still want to pore over it and slip it onto the shelf alongside however many of the previous 145 volumes they might be lucky enough to own.

Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2009, edited by Scyld Berry, is out now

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment »

Alan Tyers: Belly At The MCC Game

April 9th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket and tagged , , , ,

This game is dead important so as we can prove that we are the best person to be number three for England so Nearly Coach Flower sent a txt msg to me and Keysey and Vaughany and says we should all gather in one of the offices at Lord’s and he was going to talk to us all on something called an important conference call which is a bit like when you are playing Murder Undead Kill IV on the Xbox and you are doing a multiplayer and you talk on a headset with your team-mates except obviously Nearly Coach Flower won’t be telling us to shoot zombies with a bolt gun or at least I doubt it. Nearly Coach Flower says the important conference call is very important and not to be late.

So I passes Vaughany in the corridor and I says “Are you coming to the important conference call Vaughany?” but he says it has been moved to another office just over by the Nursery Ground and if I set off there he will text me the directions on my iPhone and he’ll be along in a minute. Well there must have been some sort of mix-up because I followed the instructions to the letter but when I got to the office it was all dark in there and the door shut behind me real quickly and seemed to be locked from the outside. Well I waited for Nearly Coach Flower to start talking but he never said anything and after a while when my eyes adjusted, and I had a bit of a brainwave even though I say it myself and took off my sunglasses, I looked around and saw that there wasn’t desks and chairs and secretaries and other normal stuff that you see in an office but just lawnmowers and pots of paint and things like this and I’m thinking maybe this isn’t an office after all.

I didn’t panic though because I’ve done a lot of work on my temperament over the last couple of seasons and you’re seeing a very different Ian Bell to the one as first exploded onto the international scene with big runs against the West Indies and Bangladesh and a Highly Commended in Bella Magazine’s Best Hair On An International Sportsman 2005.

I took a deep breath and I thought “Right if I’m going to get out of this I’ve got to puff my chest out and dig in and put my hand up” but that actually seemed a bit confusing so in the end I just sat there and played Pokemon Regeneration Nine on my iPhone and sure enough Vaughany turned up a few hours later and says I missed the important conference call and Nearly Coach Flower was as mad as anything and it was A Black Mark Next To My Name but not to worry as Keysey had missed the important conference call too because someone texted him that they were giving away free sausage rolls down at St John’s Wood tube station but when he got there there weren’t none left so in the end only Michael Vaughan was at the important conference call, says Vaughany, and that’s probably what they’re talk about when they talk about the value of experience I guess.

Alan Tyers has no ambitions to bat at three for England

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket | 1 Comment »

The TWC summit: T20 time

April 8th, 2009 by TWC in Miscellaneous, Twenty20

With England picking their provisional 30-man squad for the summer’s Twenty20 World Cup, and no place for Test and one-day captain Andrew Strauss, it is the perfect opportunity for our panel to stick their oars in. Here, they choose their captain and final 15s.

As a reminder, here’s who they had to pick from:

England preliminary WorldTwenty20 squad: Kabir Ali (Worcestershire); James Anderson (Lancashire); Gareth Batty (Worcestershire); Ian Bell (Warwickshire); Ravi Bopara (Essex); Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire); Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire); Paul Collingwood (Durham); Joe Denly (Kent); James Foster (Essex); Steven Davies (Worcestershire); Andrew Flintoff (Lancashire); Steve Harmison (Durham); Robert Key (Kent); Sajid Mahmood (Lancashire); Dimitri Mascarenhas (Hampshire); Eoin Morgan (Middlesex); Graham Napier (Essex); Samit Patel (Nottinghamshire); Kevin Pietersen (Hampshire); Liam Plunkett (Durham); Matthew Prior (Sussex); Adil Rashid (Yorkshire); Owais Shah (Middlesex); Ryan Sidebottom (Nottinghamshire); Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire); Chris Tremlett (Hampshire); Shaun Udal (Middlesex); Chris Woakes (Warwickshire); Luke Wright (Sussex).

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Miscellaneous, Twenty20 | 9 Comments »

The Wisden Cricketer – May Issue

April 8th, 2009 by TWC in Miscellaneous

With the new season approaching it’s about time for May’s edition of The Wisden Cricketer.

No one had much fun watching England’s men this winter, but fortunately the women know how to win and we have celebrated their World Cup success with a place on our cover. Also in the May issue are the BBC’s Alison Mitchell’s World Cup diary from Sydney and an exclusive interview with Claire Taylor, the first woman to be named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the year.

Nasser Hussain has spent the last few months watching England struggle in the Windies and has done his best to ‘take the positives’ for us, while recommending Andy Flower as the man to succeed Peter Moores on a permanent basis.

As the country gears up for it’s busiest summer of cricket ever, there are team-by-team previews for the County Championship season, with Nick Knight giving his expert predictions and Robin Martin-Jenkins on taking photos of vineyards.

We also have the best team never to play for England, with Steve Bruce nowhere in sight.

Plus, there’s a revealing interview with Ali Brown and an even more revealing extract from Mark Wagh’s upcoming book, Adam Gilchrist is Nicholas Shakespeare’s favourite cricketer and Devon Malcolm wins a place in our XI bespectacled cricketers.

And much more.

In newsagents on Friday, or subscribe here.

Posted in Miscellaneous | No Comments »

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