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The TWC Summit: So children, what have we learnt?

May 20th, 2009 by TWC in England, Test cricket, The Ashes

We asked for an England win against West Indies, and we got one. A 2-0 win in fact, as comfortable as you like, by margins of 10 wickets and an innings and 83 runs. But, with just 50 days until the Ashes, did thrashing a team lacking in preparation, desire to be playing cricket and handwarmers actually tell us anything about England’s chances in the main event?

Our panel have their say below.

Edward Craig

Deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

It tells us good things – that the team is remembering how to win, how to enjoy cricket, how to think batsmen out and how a good coach-captain relationship makes all the difference. All these things were happening in 2005. But they’d been happening for the two years leading up to the Ashes then, that’s the only worry.

Daniel Brigham

Assistant editor of The Wisden Cricketer

More than I initially believed. Yes, West Indies were shivering and embarrassing but they still had Gayle, Sarwan and Chanderpaul in their batting line-up – three of the best batsmen in the world. That England’s attack took 20 wickets so cheaply and efficiently shows how well they’re coming together. Anderson and Broad looked like taking a wicket with every over, not because the Windies batsmen were poor but because they had complete control of what they’re doing. Onions showed he was more than just a typical English swing bowler with good pace, bounce and rhythm. Throw in Flintoff and you have a high-quality attack that appears to edge Australia’s.

Less can be taken from England’s batting because of the standard of bowling they faced. The one thing we have learned is that Ravi Bopara was born to bat No. 3 – and Australia will know it.

Sam Collins

Website editor,

The difference in quality and attitude of this summer’s two tourists could not be more pronounced. That said, England put West Indies away emphatically. I am happy with Bopara at three – he is confident and in-form which is more than could be said for any of the other contenders. Despite Anderson’s exceptional performances, the bowling will still depend on Flintoff’s return, we need his hostility and big-game presence. The worry is his injury worries will not subside and that the weakest part of England’s set-up against the West Indies – Broad as high as No.7 – will be exposed. Broad was personally dropped at least five times in two innings by West Indies and his runs flattered him accordingly. He is a strokeplayer, a fine one, but England will need their share of obduracy against the Aussies.

Will Luke

Assistant editor of

Not a lot. Anderson bowls well in early May against a team petrified of sub-25c temperatures and depressingly weak against the moving ball. Well, so what? We have the better spin attack, too, but relying on that isn’t going to win us the Ashes.The most obvious encouragement we can take is the character and togetherness of the side. That Ravi Bopara felt confident and cocky enough to signal for his name to be put on the board, while celebrating his hundred, suggests that the current environment for a young aspiring player encourages freedom of expression, much more so than we thought. They even look happy, which we couldn’t have said a few months ago. That in itself is reason to cheer. They have the arsenal to beat Australia, and if they have a good Twenty20 campaign in the lead-up (stop laughing at the back), they may just have the belief too.

Robin Martin-Jenkins

Sussex allrounder and TWC columnist

I’m not sure how you spell diddly squat so I’ll say not very much. Actually that’s not fair. It tells us that Stuart Broad is developing into a very fine international bowler, that Ravi Bopara has solved the Shah/Bell/Vaughan debate, and, with apologies to Edward Craig, that it’s grim up North. The England PR machine has been talking for some time about gathering some momentum before the Ashes. Well now they have the ‘Big Mo’ so we’ll soon find out if it makes any difference.

Rob Smyth

Freelance journalist

Barely anything, if that. The only thing it really told us was just how shameful England’s defeat in the Caribbean was.

King Cricket

Blogger and Rob Key fan

The result tells us that England are a damn sight better at home than they are away.

It also tells us we should have played the Ashes in May. How do you like them frozen apples, Aussies? Stop being so nesh, it’s mafting.

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “The TWC Summit: So children, what have we learnt?”

  1.   Paddy Briggs says:

    1. That Ravi Bopara has what it takes to be a successful Test cricketer.

    2. That Graham Swann is a pretty good bowler and a potential Test all-rounder.

    3. That Graham Onions can take wickets at Test level against modest opposition even on slow tracks

    4. That Andrew Strauss is a better captain than Chris Gayle.

    5. That England has only one genuine world class player (KP) but that the rest of the team are very good and that one or two are borderline excellent (Anderson, Strauss, Cook, Bopara, Prior)

    6. That based on the team on view we do not have a fast-bowling attack which will trouble the Aussies and that we must find partners for Jimmy from somewhere or we’ll lose.

    7. That based on the team on view we do have batsmen who should be able to compile a decent total against Australia - but probably not a defendable one given the limited fast bowling.

    8. That a team that is “up for it” and well led will beat one that occasionaly loses the plot led by an eccentric dude of a captain.

    9. That Durham is a very decent Test ground and that it is shameful that they have not got an Ashes Test and that Cardiff has.

    10. That Lord’s, even in early May, is the best place in the world to watch cricket.

  2.   GoodCricketWicket says:

    It tells us that Andrew Flintoff is not nearly as important to England as everybody seems to think.

    For all that talk of “hostility and big-game presence”, he hasn’t won a test for four years, and England rarely win at all when he plays now.

  3.   Paddy Briggs says:

    A friend commented that I hadn’t mentioned Stuart Broad in my remarks above. Broad is still very much work in progress. Very important that all of us who hope that he could be really good don’t overhype hin at this stage. His over against Sarwan was terrific but his bowling was sometimes loose and he is inconsistent (understandably given his inexperience). He has a sensible head on his shoulder and Broad pere will keep his feet on the ground. But at this stage he is far from the finished artcile and in my opinion not an automatic choice for Cardiff. We’ll see - big year for him.

  4.   Mick Jones says:

    Listen to all this nonesense, Rob Smyth is spot on, this was shameful Test cricket and if anything, was counter-productive for England as it left them with them a hugely mis-leading high opinion of themseleves when really they needed to be pushed hard.

    1. Anderson - explain to me how this was any differant from this time last summer when he’d cleaned up NZ? - and what did he do against SA? - sweet FA. I will be amazed if he averages below 38 with the ball in the Ashes.

    In fact, I’d argue that questions need to be asked to why England needed Onions to take so many at Lord’s when their so-called ‘attach-leader’ had done nothing with the new ball. Why didn’t he get 9 in the first Test?

    2. Bopara - nice player, looks great, but sorry, those three hundreds mean nothing. Clarke and Johnson will be all over him at 3. He should be 4 with KP at 3.

    3. Strauss - er, er, two of the worst judged declarations you’ve seen in the Windies. So he captained Eng to wins v a can’t be bothered Windies. Go away.

    Great bat, but sorry, way, way to conservative and unimaginative to win us an Ashes.

    4. The only players we can confidently say will be up for the Ashes scrap are Swann, Collingwood, KP, Prior and maybe Broad if he learns to move it as opposed to ‘straight wicket-to-wicket’.

  5.   robin martin-jenkins says:

    Mick Jones must be one helluva player to be able to criticise the england players so, or is he Boycott in disguise?

  6.   Mark says:

    Mick Jones has some relevant points, albeit harshly expressed.

    1)Anderson looks great, but we’ve been here before. New Zealand this time last year was a good example. Yes, he looks better this time around, but he has gone missing against big opposition before. This series hasn’t taught us whether he’ll make the step up, though if he continues as he is, he could be the star turn.

    2) Ravi Bopara was flashy and impressive on the whole, but he was dropped at key moments and got a very big lbw reprieve on 40 at Lord’s. If those legitimate chances had been taken, we’d be agonising over who made prettier small innings - Bopara or Bell.

    3)I disagree with the Strauss position - I think his captaincy is improving (and why wouldn’t it with practice and increased authority?). Yes, those declarations were too formulaic in the West Indies - and the ones he took this time weren’t. And he managed the bowlers well.

    4)They’ll all be up for it. Whether they’ll wilt is another matter.

  7.   Paddy Briggs says:


    Like me Boycs was actually at the two matches and from what I heard his comments were apposite and on the mark. I don’t know whether Mick Jones made it to Lord’s or to Durham but if he did then he cannot have seen the same matches that I did. England looked motivated and well-led by Straussy. There were some top performances with bat and ball. It may have been “shameful” Test cricket but England’s performances were far from that. 193-5 in the first innings at Lord’s was turned round into a comprehensive ten-wicket win. Bopara and Swann emerged as truly excellent players. Prior was commendable. Broad bowled really well at times. Onions looked pretty good. KP batted like the Star he is at Durham before Benn kidded him out (KP needs to work on that - I’m sure that he will). One enduring memory was of England’s players running happily from end to end at the change of each over. They looked a good outfit to me. Ignore Mick Jones’ sneers - they don’t count for much.

  8.   Trevor Neale says:

    All irrelevant - thanks to ECB,
    eyes light up at all that money,
    never consistency of on-field success,
    never a thought of bland excess,
    hence…play some tests in early season,
    against third choice team here for financial reason,
    who are surprised when
    in May, swing and seam
    beat a team who didn’t
    want to be here then…
    except money talks
    crowds walk, away
    what does this say?
    So - then - to the priority…
    forget the ashes-let’s play T20!
    after a sodden trio of one-days
    no one cares-tis’still only May
    after all the bit-part bluster
    left unready, all a fluster!
    And all of a sudden
    The Ashes are here…
    and unlike (or like)
    a group of boy scouts…
    left untested, multiple doubts
    be prepared? unprepared,
    should be totally scared…
    arise like the phoenix
    from the flame
    all-knowing the result
    will be the same…
    maybe next time?
    yours, (exasperated) in rhyme…


    so cash into the ECB bank?

    or a schedule that stinks so rank…

    be happy losers…..

    (nevermind…it’s not on TV, so nobody will know…..)

  9.   Gumbo says:

    Mick Jones asks why Anderson didn’t take 9 wickets at Lord’s. Possibly the most ridiculous question ever on the wisden blog? And as for Bopara’s three consecutive hundreds meaning nothing … do you think Bell, Vaughan, Shah could have achieved that? His hundred at Lord’s was the most skilled by and England player for a long time in difficult conditions.

  10.   TheSlogfather says:

    Headingley flooded
    Irish import unblooded
    second match a clash
    with IPLs final bash
    and not to mention
    the overpowering intervention
    of the final day
    of football premiership on display…
    so I must ask
    and take those to task
    why no second game today?
    or the third on holiday monday?

  11.   Mick Jones says:

    Gumbo - so what if Vaughan couldn’t have got 3 hundreds in a row, at least we know for sure he wouldn’t wilt at no3 v the Aussies. We have no idea what Bopara can do against real opposition. So far he’s failed in his only tough Test series (away in SL) and succeded at home to the worst team to ever tour this country (and that includes Bang & Zim).

    The Zim team that came here in 2000 was a bigger test than this series.

    By the way, some stats on Anderson:

    v WI & NZ & Zim: Ave 25

    v everyone else (i.e. good): Ave 43

    Attack Leader?

    Oh. Dear

    As for Struass, his only two tricky captaincy decisions he’s got wrong. Nothing in that series v Windies told us anything, all he to do was rotate his bowlers and wait for the Windies bats to get themselves out.

    oh so England ran around happy as bunnies in the field did they? Funny that, anything to do with the fact they were crushing a rubbish team easily? Just like my 5-a-side team, when we play some grandads and win 8-0 everyone is in the bar best mates. As soon as we go down 1-4 to some decent team we are all argueing and fighting.

    It’s called human nature

  12.   Gumbo says:

    I absolutely agree that Anderson’s stats don’t back up my belief that he should be an attack leader. But the control he has shown since the winter Windies series is utterly world-class. West Indies may be feeble, but Chanderpaul and Sarwan are anything but, and they’ve both publicly attested to his abilities.

    As for Ravi, he’s just class. He’s been promoted to the number 3 position - a massive pressure situation knowing he has Vaughan, Bell and Shah breathing down his neck - and scored two very good hundreds. No reason to think he’s going to be daunted by Johnson and Siddle.

    Hopefully it should be fun finding out!

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