May 2009
« Apr   Jun »

John Stern: Common sense the key in England choices

May 1st, 2009 by John Stern in England, One-day cricket, Twenty20


It was a toss-up between James Foster and Ben Scott, of Middlesex, as to who was the best keeper at the Twenty20 finals day last year. Foster has a bit of international pedigree and more experience so his pick for the World Twenty20 is spot on.

Watching Geraint Jones look a bit average in the Champions Trophy in 2004, it struck me that it is illogical to pick a batsman-keeper in limited-overs cricket. You need your best gloveman to be watertight and stand up to the medium-pacers, as Foster will do. With more allrounders likely to be in your limited-overs line-up you can afford your keeper to bat down the order.

The new Flower regime has picked two squads so far and both have a fresh, balanced and common-sense look to them. This is the easy part of course. Backing the players even when they don’t perform is the tough bit.

Paul Collingwood as captain also has a common-sense feel to it. There are so few Twenty20 internationals played that there is no need to worry about future planning. Winning this tournament, or at least, putting up a good show is all that matters. Someone like Rob Key as captain would just have been bizarre and been unfair on the player involved. Collingwood made it clear that he had no more captaincy ambitions after his stint ended so ignobly last summer. But this is a one-off and, who knows, it might even work.

The squad looks to have the right blend of young and old(er), of T20 specialist and proven international. I don’t suddenly feel that England have any greater chance of winning the thing than they did 24 hours ago which is to say, not a great deal. Other sides like India and South Africa have better hitters, more experience and more variety. And Twenty20 isn’t a lottery, as some might choose to believe. In the next issue of TWC (out next Friday), Collingwood describes T20 as a more “skill-based” game than the more mentally challenging Test cricket. Other countries have more players who are more athletic and more skilled in this no-margin-for-error form of the game.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, One-day cricket, Twenty20 | No Comments »

Daniel Brigham: Confident Ravi the right man at three

May 1st, 2009 by Daniel Brigham in England, Test cricket


Ricky Ponting, Rahul Dravid, Kumar Sangakkara. What do they have in common? Yes, they’re all damn fine batsmen but, even more than that, they hold the top three spots in the leading run-scorers for the No.3 position in the world. Ever. In fourth place is some fella called Don Bradman.

That the top three all played the majority of their cricket in the current decade is especially interesting when considering that England’s best No.3 in the last decade – Mark Butcher – is a lowly 19th on the all-time list. England’s best-ever, Wally Hammond, is 13th.

So why can’t we develop good No.3s? I spoke to a number of people – Ted Dexter, Butcher, Angus Fraser included – about this topic when Ian Bell publicly claimed the No.3 slot at the end of last summer. Fraser, who was alarmed to find that England had used 12 different No.3s during his 46 Tests, hit upon something interesting.

“The batsman needs to want a challenge, it has to be something they want to do.” Fraser said. “Which isn’t the English way. We’re rather unassuming and maybe our batsmen like to slip into the side at four or five rather than being brash about really wanting to take the No.3 position.”

Hmm. Brash, up for a challenge? Sounds like Ravi Bopara to me. He’s a natural at three, and he wants it. When Bell said he wanted to bat there, one suspected he only said that because that was what was expected of him. When Bopara says he wants to, it’s because he really believes he’s good enough.

Dexter – who averaged over 50 in the position – said a No.3 needs to play new and old ball, quick bowler and spinner equally well. They also need to know how to adjust the pace of an innings – “A No.3 should be able to turn things around in 30 or 40 minutes,” he said.

Again, that sounds right up Ravi’s street. He paces his innings better than anyone else in the England side – Kevin Pietersen included – and is adaptable to good and bad situations. His enormous shot selection and inventiveness allows him to either find the gaps when under pressure or find the boundary when accelerating. Not only that but, unlike KP, he rarely throws his wicket away when set. It’s been a long wait, but England may finally have found a No.3 to rival Ponting, Dravid and Sangakkara.

Daniel Brigham is assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, Test cricket | 2 Comments »

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2010 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved