May 2009
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The TWC Summit: Is Graham Onions the new Ed Giddins?

May 13th, 2009 by TWC in England, Test cricket


So then. Seven wickets on Test debut for Graham Onions. Here at TWC, we’re way above the obvious, so we’ll just quote Simon Barnes instead, “Onions ran rings round the West Indies batsmen. Onions sizzled at Lord’s yesterday. It’s hard cheese and Onions for West Indies. West Indies found Onions unpalatable. Strauss knows his Onions. West Indies got a stuffing with Onions. Onions put West Indies in a pickle. Onions cut West Indies off at source.”

But can he help us beat the Aussies, or the latest in a line of bowlers (Ed Giddins, James Kirtley, Richard Johnson please stand up) who have proved no more than an international flash-in-the-pan?! Dammit. We asked our panel. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in England, Test cricket | 4 Comments »

Lawrence Booth: England must stop Hughes Phill–ing his boots

May 13th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in County cricket, Test cricket, The Ashes


I’ve seen the future and it’s scary. It backs away to leg and hits good-length balls through point. It hurries down the pitch and whacks seamers over long-on. It is only 20 years old but has a better line in banter than one or two seasoned South African sledgers I could name. It’s name is Phillip Hughes, and unless England have a cunning plan to deal with it, they can kiss goodbye to the Ashes. Again.

Hughes is enough to make a God-fearing Englishman think the world is against him. When Matthew Hayden quit, he created a small chasm at the top of Australia’s order. Here was another weakness to add to a list already including “no spinner”, “temperamental all-rounder”, “fading Hussey” and “journeymen seamers”. But Hughes appears set to make Hayden look like an old frump. Where do they get them from?

In five hours and 20 minutes at The Oval last week, Hughes compiled – if that’s not too bland a verb – 195 out of 317 for Middlesex. That came on the back of 118 and 65 not out against Glamorgan and 139 against Leicestershire. These are not necessarily attacks to conjure with, but then the two hundreds Hughes made in his second Test, at Durban, suggest he can handle top-class bowling too. And if England make the mistake of inferring cowardice in that trademark step-away to leg, he will have 60 on the board before the truth dawns.

You see, it’s the way he plays, not just the runs he scores, that is so enchanting. Towards the end of the game against Glamorgan at Lord’s, Middlesex faced a tricky final 20 overs or so after losing three quick second-innings wickets. Most openers would have been inclined to block their way to safety. Hughes simply hit out, finishing with 65 out of a score of 94 for three and collecting nine of his side’s 11 boundaries. When it was pointed out to him on his return to the dressing room that there are other ways of playing for a draw, he replied: “You’ve got to have a bit of fun while you’re out there, haven’t you?”

Hughes is currently batting with something that goes beyond the fearlessness of youth. It isn’t arrogance (he says he is able to keep both feet on the ground). It isn’t recklessness (he has a system and it clearly works). It isn’t bravado (he is a humble interviewee). But it may just be a perfect-storm combination of several factors that do not often come together in a cricketer. Supreme confidence, lightning-fast hand-eye coordination, rare talent, impressive humility, utter diligence and – the writer’s get-out clause – the X-factor.

At some point things will go wrong for Hughes, and the critics will tuck into his unorthodoxy with relish. His challenge then will be to ignore them and trust in an approach that has brought him 10 first-class hundreds in 24 games. England’s challenge will be to prevent their natural suspicion of any technique that transcends the text-book from clouding their judgment. Accepting Hughes will be their first task. Overcoming him may be a different matter altogether.

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 County cricket, Test cricket, The Ashes | 8 Comments »

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