May 2009
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Richie Richardson: West Indies finding conditions tough

May 8th, 2009 by Sam Collins in west indies


In the first of his weekly blogs for the former West Indies captain Richie Richardson reviews their start to the tour

We obviously prefer the sunshine in the Caribbean so coming to play a Test match so early in the season in England is not easy. I remember that most times I played here at Lord’s it was cold and damp – the cold would have an effect on the team and maybe that’s why so many catches were dropped by the West Indies. It takes a lot of adjusting and a lot of the current players don’t have much experience in English conditions.

Read on here.

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Sam Collins: Atherton reacts strongly to Strauss surprise

May 8th, 2009 by Sam Collins in England, Test cricket

Andrew Strauss’s decision to entrust the new ball to Graham Swann in the West Indies’ first innings yesterday divided opinion among the watching public, but the majority of the press box seemed to agree with Ian Botham’s bafflement on the box – the England captain was being too smart for his own good.

Mike Atherton in particular laid into Strauss, describing the ploy as “crass, smart-arse, look-at-me captaincy”.

Below is how the rest of the media reviewed Strauss’s tactic.

Mike Atherton in The Times

Strauss will point to Swann’s success and his continued dominance over Smith, whom he dismissed three times in the winter, as justification for giving the off spinner the new ball in West Indies’ first innings. Anderson may have still been smarting from a vicious blow to the head from Edwards, but he would have been hurting more as he watched Swann take the cherry in plum conditions.
This was crass, smart-arse, look-at-me captaincy when what was required was simple adherence to the basics. England’s seamers had pined all winter for the kind of conditions that presented themselves yesterday. They did not waste them.

Mike Selvey in The Guardian
But here is the quirk: for when, after the initial surprise of Broad rather than James Anderson taking the opening over, Chris Gayle and Devon Smith faced up to the second over of the innings, they found not Anderson (designated leader of the pack now) nor either of the debutant seamers, but Graeme Swann with his off-breaks. It invoked memories of Kiwi tactics in the 1992 World Cup, or something familiar that Gayle might have encountered in the Indian Premier League. If it was playing on Gayle’s ego (a “mind the windows, Tino” moment ), then he failed diligently to take the bait but Swann got one to turn nonetheless before being brought off after two overs. It might, of course, have been Strauss being a smart-arse.

Derek Pringle in The Daily Telegraph
Swann is one of those who defy expectations in everything they do. A batsman who previously looked flaky against pace, he creamed the 90mph Edwards all round Lord’s before hooking Baker for six to bring up his fifty.
With a captain to indulge him, rather than suppress him as Duncan Fletcher did, he even got to open the bowling, a decision that looked too clever by half despite stats that say the left-handed opener Smith is vulnerable to spin.
Quite what James Anderson, already grouchy after being sconned by an Edwards thunderbolt when he batted, thought about being overlooked is probably not printable, though the pace bowler eventually made his point by removing Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan in the second innings.

Jonathan Agnew on the
Strauss showed great ingenuity in giving Swann the new ball - almost unheard of these days - because of the hold England’s spinners held over Smith in the Caribbean.

Richard Williams in The Guardian
The decision to open the innings with Broad’s pace at the Nursery end and Swann’s off-spin at the Pavilion end provoked some scratching of heads, but a sensible degree of adventurous originality is a welcome sight in an England cricket team and when Swann’s first three overs yielded no reward against Gayle and Smith, the captain was flexible and firm enough not to let things drift but to introduce Jimmy Anderson.

Andrew Miller on
The idea of entrusting the new ball to a spinner was, according to Onions, a tactic planned far in advance, although in reality, the ebullience of Swann’s earlier batting, coupled with his natural bravado, probably meant he walked straight up to his captain and swiped the cherry before anyone could intervene. With Ravi Bopara showing the way on Wednesday, cockiness has been an unexpectedly welcome trait in this new-look England dressing-room. It certainly beats the jaded complacency of old.

Sam Collins is website editor of

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Miles Jupp: Why does Lord's make it so hard?

May 8th, 2009 by Miles Jupp in England, Test cricket


Watching cricket at Lord’s is a surprisingly hard thing to do. As I sat in the stands yesterday I was amazed by the constant interruptions of members of staff telling people to what to do and how to behave. Not only is there a manifest number of strict rules governing exactly who sits where, when they can move and what their allowed to do once in place, but these rules are stringently enforced.

Every time somebody stood up in my stand, a steward noisily hurtled over to tell them to sit down again until the end of the over. It seems that regardless of what angle to the crease you are seated, any sort of movement, sudden or doddery, is deemed capable of distracting the players. If you were watching the game on the television yesterday you might not have noticed, but there was a terrifying moment when Ravi Bopara nearly lost his concentration as a result of an elderly lady sitting eight rows back at wide mid-on getting out of her seat because she’d dropped her spectacles case.

Only the prompt reactions of the stewards in my stand helped England narrowly avoid a disaster.

Perhaps they are under the impression that spectators who stand up or use their mobile phones occasionally are hampering the enjoyment of those around them, as would be the case at, say, an opera. But if a steward genuinely believes that a man sending a text message is more of a distraction than a steward clambering over the seats to tell a man not to send a text message, then he’s got a chemical imbalance of the brain.

Rightly, some will say that the stewards are only doing their jobs. But I don’t think there’s anything “only” about it – many of the rules they are required to enforce are ridiculous, and they apparently have not been entrusted to use their discretion. A man yesterday had been sold a ticket in a block largely allocated to school groups and wanted to move to a quieter, half-empty and less expensive stand. The stewards had to tell him that, although they personally sympathised, they were not allowed to let him move owing to a strict new policy on “stand migration”.

Simply getting around the ground was a bit of a hassle yesterday. The energy firm who generously sponsor our home Tests were marketing aggressively, as I imagine they will at all grounds this summer – even Cardiff if there’s room. It’s bad enough being cold-called at home by people who want you to consider changing your energy supplier, but to be harangued about it at cricket matches somehow feels like even more of an invasion.

What I find particularly odd about Lord’s is that many of the people with stewarding responsibilities appear to be members of the armed forces. It’s as if the Test has been organised by some rather flamboyant man who works in events and thought it might be rather fun to have “a lot of people dressed as sailors”.

Alternatively, and more frighteningly, they are genuine soldiers and the reason that Gordon and Barack have been withdrawing troops from war zones is because the Ashes are coming up, and they feel they really need their top people making sure that no-one dares even think about using a Blackberry in the Edrich stand.

The cricket was good though.

Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan

Posted in England, Test cricket | 4 Comments »

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