Recent Comments

  • Tim ConnollyCracking finish and puts us right back in this tournament! Ravi to open! We now have our secret weapon...
  • Tom MooneyAnother amazing game. Who knows what will happen against Bangladesh? After all the low scoring this...
  • SteveNot a bad shout Benj! He needs to find a way of bowling on the flat decks though.
  • missjaneI am pretty sure you mean that “Guam, Guatemala and Guinea-Bissau can experience the thrill of...
  • Tom MooneyI understand the point here, and I like Jimmy as much as the next England fan. But what other choice is...
July 2009
« Jun   Aug »

King Cricket: Beware the cricketer you can't recognise

July 31st, 2009 by Alex Bowden in England, Test cricket, The Ashes

It’s like they always say: beware the Australian cricketer you don’t actually recognise and the other one who you’d pretty much forgotten about because you didn’t pay that much attention to him in the first place because he was injured about 95 percent of the time. Yes, they do say that and they say it for a reason.

Shane Watson’s come into the Australia Test team with something of a reputation as an opening batsman - a reputation as a crap opening batsman - but he’s already made some runs. Graham Manou is so anonymous we only found out our first fact about him yesterday: he’s a better keeper than Haddin. Shortly afterwards, we found out our second: he goes out with Aussie middle-distance runner, Tamsyn Lewis. These pair (Watson and Manou, not Manou and Lewis) have been largely overlooked by the British cricket media, but you might be surprised and alarmed to hear that this doesn’t in any way ensure that they won’t perform.

Measured purely in column inches, Australia’s danger men are Phil Hughes and Mitchell Johnson. One’s been dropped and the other’s so short of rhythm he makes a scratched Enya CD sound like Funkadelic. Media attention does not necessarily tally with the level of threat. For the record, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Michael Clarke can all bat reasonably well. There is an outside chance that they will put together some decent scores. They aren’t quite so exciting, because we know what to expect from them. We know to expect quite a few runs. Watson and Manou might chip in too.

King Cricket blogs at He is a cult figure in the world of cricket blogs and was TWC’s first Best-of-blogs winner in April 2008.

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | No Comments »

Belly: Me And My Aura

July 30th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket, The Ashes


A lot of people’s been talking about auras this week and how the Australian team’s lost theirs and maybe England could get one of these auras of our own.

To be 125 percent honest with you I wasn’t too sure what this aura business actually was at first. I supposed it must be some sort of pet and that made me feel sorry for the Australians ‘cos no matter how much of a bully someone is and even if they call you an unkind nickname from a film it’s no fun losing a pet.

Sadly I know about this only too well after we had to have my poor guinea pig, Test Class, put down after Fred tried to feed him that third sambuccatini during the celebrations of our come-from-behind 2-1 Test series defeat against the South Africans last summer. Poor Test Class: still, being an international sportsman you are going to have your ups (a fluid 199 at Lord’s) and downs (childhood pet choking to death on its own vomit). I’m a better player for watching that vet finally put him out of his misery.

I knew straight away who to ask about this aura / pet debate: Broady. For one, Broady done GCSE biology, and b) he’s what the television always calls a Very Intelligent Cricketer so I was pretty certain he’d know. Sure enough, he showed his excellent temperament for a young lad and he’s sat down and thought about it and he’s said it’s not actually an animal, this aura, it’s like a sort of cloud around you that makes other people sit up and take notice of you.

I had a bit of a think about that and said to Broady that sounds a bit like KP when he got his first sponsorship deal with Hai Karate talcum powder for a two-figure sum and he was contractually obliged to be seen on the balcony puffing it over himself at least four times an hour during Tests. Broady again showed his good cricket brain when he says try not to think of it as talcum powder, or even another type of male grooming product such as hair wax, hair gel or hair mousse, but in fact like a mysterious force or presence.

That sounded almost like it might be religious so I went and asked Cooky because he knows all sorts about God and churches and stuff from his time as a choirboy. He says this aura wasn’t religious but more like a spirit thing and that got Fred interested and he leapt off the treatment table and fired up his personal ice machine in preparation for something cold and wet likes, but Cooky says no, it’s more like the Holy Spirit which is like a friend of God’s or something.

Cooky says that he went on a choir tour to the United States Of America with his local church, Saint Goochie’s, and they done all singing and these large black ladies would get all overexcited and shout and shriek and faint in ecstasy a bit like Priory when he pouches three in a row in catching practice and that was more like your aura-type situation.

Cooky says we could try this thing that’s called “laying on of hands” to perhaps get an aura of our own and we asked Kirk Russell our physio to show us but he says he’s already trying to work one miracle getting XI players who can walk properly out on the pitch. Instead, Swanny has a brainwave and says “why don’t we try and summon an aura with an ouija board” which is like a board game such as Mousetrap or Guess Who? only not as mentally demanding and less focused on asking if someone has a beard or glasses and more focused on getting possessed by an evil spirit from beyond the grave.

So we make this ouija board thing and we can’t find a glass but luckily there’s one of Gilo’s King Of Spain mugs lying around the place so we use that. Well, I don’t know about aura but that mug was moving all over the place in the way that a cricket ball doesn’t in this day and age and I tell you we learned some pretty terrifying things that afternoon and Monty started crying and shouting “Owwwwwizeeee oujia izzzeeeee” dead loud like but to be honest I don’t think he even understood the rules but whatever, the noise brought Straussy in.

He was mad as anything, Straussy, and he says “Look, actually, guys that’s really pretty uncool, you know, because there was this chap at Radley who messed around with an ouija board and he actually went completely bananas and matron had to call his mother and father to come and pick him up and apparently he still thinks that an evil spirit lives in his wardrobe.” And that got me to thinking, well, if it means that something is going to be living in my wardrobe for the rest of my life then, thanks but no thanks, Ian Bell will just forget about this aura business altogether and concentrate on doing the simple things well.

By Alan Tyers

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 5 Comments »

Steve Busfield: How are you following the Ashes?

July 30th, 2009 by TWC in The Ashes, The media

Until they bring in day/night Test matches (do we really want that?), there is one fundamental problem following cricket: work. So, as the battle for the Ashes hots up in Edgbaston, and you are stuck in the office, how will you be following the match?

I well remember the moment before the same test in 2005 when a mini roar went around the office an hour before the start: Glenn McGrath had just been shown being wheeled away in a buggie with a twisted ankle. We were lucky enough to have TVs in the office. Not many have that, even if Sky are doing their best to help out with their (most likely NSFW) Skyplayer innovation.

So, will you be surreptitiously following the Guardian’s over by over? It is much copied but never bettered (full disclosure: I work for the Guardian, so I would say that wouldn’t I): Rob Smyth, Andy Bull and columnist Lawrence Booth witty, knowledgeable and bringing the game to life on a web page.

Cricinfo’s ball by ball has added comment to its descriptions and is excellent if you want to know every detail of Alastair Cook’s forward defensive (a bit too much info for my liking). It does also have the fantastic statsguru, a statistician’s delight (and is there a cricket lover who doesn’t love stats?).

Ball-by-ball/over-by-over coverage now run in several places, and the The Times’ is worthy of mention, while the BBC’s quickfire Ben Dirs also attracts a loyal fanbase.

Do you Twitter? In which case you may also be following the action with Sky’s King of Twitter (in many senses of the word): David Lloyd. His Bumblecricket twitter feed is very much like the former England coach’s commentary, a stream of consciousness, witticisms and, occasionally, cricket sense.

If you prefer your tweets to be BBC-flavoured, there’s Aggerscricket or blowersh. As with Bumble, you pretty much get what you would expect, but all in a handy bite-sized 140 characters. Phil Hughes even confirmed his axing for today’s third Test on the site.

If you can listen but not watch, have you tried out Test Match Sofa yet? Again I have to issue a disclaimer, being an occasional contributor to the live cricket website that gives ball-by-ball commentary from a living room sofa interspersed with debate ranging from the best biscuit varieties to Richie Benaud impersonations.

If you are in a really strict office though, a discrete pop-up scoreboard may be the best that you can get away with. I’m not a connoisseur of the pop-up scorecard, so am open to your suggestions for the best option.

Or maybe you are lucky enough to be at home, on your own sofa, feet up, drink at your side, food in the fridge, Sky on the telly and, perhaps, TMS (Sofa or the original Special) providing the audio.

Almost as good as being there. Almost.

How do you follow the game?

Steve Busfield writes about media, technology, The Wire and, very occasionally cricket, for the Guardian

Posted in The Ashes, The media | 3 Comments »

Peter Siddle: You can't worry about being dropped

July 29th, 2009 by peter siddle in England, Test cricket, The Ashes


We’ve had a week or so now to take stock of the first two Tests. The enormity of the occasion and the tour, and the excitement of playing is still there, we are just frustrated that at this point we are 1-0 down. There are still tree Tests to go though and I’m confident we can turn things around. Cricket is all about momentum and trying to keep that momentum as long as possible. You saw that with the way that England took their performance from the last day in Cardiff into the Lord’s game.

After Lord’s we’d had a big two weeks, with back-to-back Tests and bowling a lot of overs, so I was feeling physically tired and a bit worn down, but after a couple of days rest and not bowling a lot of overs during the tour match I’m feeling really good again and looking forward to a couple more weeks of cricket.

It seems there is a good chance that the weather will affect this match, which is a bit disappointing as we’re trailing and were hoping for a full five days of clear weather to give us the best chance of winning the match and getting back into the series.

We still don’t know what the selectors are thinking, they’ll have another look at the pitch and probably let us know the night before or maybe even at the toss tomorrow morning. Nets have been a competitive place, the bowlers are charging in and giving the batsmen a good workout, so it’s healthy for the team. It’s a big decision for the selectors, I’m hoping personally to keep my place, but there could be changes coming. Obviously the guys who haven’t had a chance in the Tests yet got their opportunities to impress the selectors at Northampton and they all did pretty well. They’re itching to play some cricket.

Shane Watson was striking the ball very well, he scored a fifty off 28 balls at Northants playing proper cricket shots and with his bowling getting back to his best and the pace he can bowl at he’s always great to have in the side. Andrew McDonald also showed form with the bat and I like the way he goes about his bowling – he blocks up one end, which is very handy. Stuart Clark bowled exceptionally, he’s another who keeps it tight and generates real bounce off the wicket. For guys like myself who have been the men in the possession of the spots it puts a bit of pressure on us, but we just have to be ready for it and focus on our own bowling. You can’t go out there thinking “I’m going to get dropped” or “I’m definitely in” – you can’t control anything apart from your own performance.

We’re aware that England have scored at a very quick rate so far in this series, and one of your aims as a bowler besides taking wickets is always to keep the opposition down to between three and three-and-a-half runs an over. We’ve been a little expensive, that could be down to the wickets being a little flatter but it’s definitely something that we’re aiming to cut down on in this match. That’s an asset that a couple of the guys on the sidelines have, so we’ll see what the selectors have in mind.

Mitchell Johnson looked good up at Northants, he got through 25-30 overs, his pace was back and he was charging through the crease, so he was reasonably happy with how he went. He was a bit disappointed not to take more wickets, but he was unlucky with a few chances that didn’t go his way. People have mentioned his economy rate, but we set attacking fields on a small ground and if you look at the figures a few of us went for some runs so in this case I don’t think that was an issue.

I’m pretty good mates with Mitchell and if the media attention he’s been receiving has affected him he hasn’t shown it. He’s been pretty strong, obviously it’s been tough but his mood has been good around the group and I know he’s enjoying his time over here. He just wants to get out there in this next Test and get back to his best and show everyone what he can do.

It’s really important that we get off to a good start at Edgbaston. It’s shown in the last two tests when we’ve bowled first, even in Cardiff we let them get away a bit in the first session and then at Lord’s they had that great partnership between Cook and Strauss which left us chasing tail for the rest of the match. Hopefully, be it with bat or ball, in this Test we can work hard and set the tone for the match.

Ian Bell will be slotting in for Kevin Pietersen at number four in the order for England, and it definitely makes their top-order look a bit more vulnerable. Losing KP for England is the equivalent of us losing Ricky Ponting, so it puts a bit of pressure on some of their guys. Hopefully we can get the openers early and that brings Bopara and Bell in. Bopara obviously isn’t at his best at the moment, so if we can keep the pressure on him and Bell that could be an opening for us. Bopara’s very calm normally, but like a lot of the more inexperienced blokes on both sides has not shown his best yet in this series. Maybe it’s the big occasion, but he does seem a little nervous, and we’ll be doing our best to squeeze him early on.

I’ve enjoyed the chance to see a bit of England over this tour, and we’ve had fun in Birmingham despite the bad weather. Mitchell and I went for a walk around the shops and the city centre the other day, it’s all quite new, and speaking to a few people it all seems to have come up in the last five years. We also had a few people coming up and reminding us that we were 1-0 down, and telling us we were going to lose at Edgbaston. We’ll see about that!

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | No Comments »

Lawrence Booth: Quiet Strauss deserves recognition

July 29th, 2009 by Lawrence Booth in England, The Ashes, The media


It could only happen to Andrew Strauss. He scores 161 on the first day of an Ashes Test at Lord’s to lay the foundations for an historic win and the man of the match award goes instead to a bloke with an acute sense of theatre and – dare we point out? – a first five-wicket haul for four years. While a nation goes gaga for one, it almost forgets the other. For Strauss, passed over for the Ashes captaincy in favour of Andrew Flintoff in 2006-07, there may even have been a shiver of déjà vu.

The fact is, Strauss is easy to overlook. Did you know that since he made 177 at Napier in March 2008, an innings that – ridiculous though it now seems – saved his career, no one in the world has scored more than his 1,712 Test runs? Or hit more than his eight Test centuries? No one in the world. Yet still we hear that Kevin Pietersen is England’s only truly world-class batsman.

So much for his quietly unerring accumulation of runs: what of the captaincy? At Lord’s, Strauss had to contend with criticism of his decisions a) not to enforce the follow-on, and b) to set Australia a mere 522. The first, we learned, was negative because he didn’t trust his bowlers to skittle Australia again; the second, apparently, did not quite bat Australia out of the game. In both cases the critics were wrong. Strauss could have sulked in his press conferences as one or two of his team-mates occasionally do. But he just got on with the job.

And what a job it’s been. Quite apart from knocking on the head the rule that states an England captain shall stop scoring runs, Strauss has had to turn around a squad which over the winter threatened to implode. Of course, from 51 all out in Jamaica, the only logical way was up, but the dressing room was divided and egos were running rampant. It has taken two relatively egoless figures in Strauss and Andy Flower to restore sense.

The last few weeks have reinforced the suspicion that Strauss is seen as lacking qualities that have traditionally made other England captains easy to write about. He is tough but not in the Ray Illingworth mould; cerebral but not up there with Mike Brearley; astute but still adrift of Michael Vaughan. But he has enough of each quality to form an understated whole. If Ricky Ponting is the sexier story this summer, Strauss will not mind one bit.

There was a nice moment at the end of the Cardiff Test, when Australian tempers were running high after England’s time-wasting tactics. One reporter grandly informed Strauss that Ponting was unhappy, thus inviting the England captain to hit back with a rather more colourful adjective. Instead, in a tone of voice that was sincere enough to draw the sting but retained a telling ounce of indifference, he replied: “If Ricky’s unhappy, that’s a shame.”

It was quiet and effective. Which is how Strauss is planning to be all the way to The Oval and beyond.

Lawrence Booth writes on cricket for the Guardian

Posted in England, The Ashes, The media | 3 Comments »

Jrod: Australia's disappearing allrounder

July 27th, 2009 by Jrod in England, Test cricket, The Ashes


Australia has spent years looking for a proper allrounder. The “next Keith Miller” tag faded away in the 70s, but Australia has never stopped searching for allrounders. Their searches have mostly been pitiful and time wasting.

They have tried bowling allrounders: Max Walker, Simon O’Donnell, Greg Matthews, Tony Dodemaide, Simon Davis, and Paul Reiffel. And batting allrounders: Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Michael Bevan, Marcus North, Cameron White and Shane Watson have all had a go.

None of them have hit the spot. Then Mitchell Johnson came along.

A left-arm opening bowler who can bowl at 95 mph, make run-a-ball hundreds, break the hands of opening batsmen, break the hearts of finger spinners, and take wickets on the flattest of the flat pitches.

It was magical while it lasted. One whole series.

Australia get a world-class allrounder, and he lasts for one series. What the hell is going on?

One series? Steve Harmison can do better than that.

I’m sorry, Mitchell, I know you have problems. Troy Cooley is trying to give you this mysterious inswinger, and your mum cannot walk past a reporter at the moment, but one series? Come on, Tony Dodemaide gave us that much.

Buck up, champ. This is only a cricket game. You have been playing for years. This isn’t some foreign planet made entirely of water with spider-whale mutants hunting you for your blood. I’d tell you if it was. Cricket is generally not a matter of life or death.

You get to the top of your mark, pick a spot, then run in and sling it there. That appears to be what you did before the magic of the inswinger invaded your mind. So just do that again. Forget about wrist position, this isn’t an ergonomic repetitive stress video.

Just come in and bowl. You seem to remember how to bat, and as long as Tim Nielsen doesn’t teach you the reverse sweep I can’t see that changing.

So give us one more series as an allrounder, and if you still think it is too much for you we can always turn to Andrew McDonald (and weep).

Jrod is an Australian blogger, and now author. His book The Year Of The Balls 2008: A Disrespective is available now

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 3 Comments »

The TWC interview: Ed Joyce

July 24th, 2009 by Sam Collins in County cricket, England


Ed Joyce is a key part of the Sussex team that take on Hampshire in the Friends Provident Trophy final at Lord’s tomorrow. He moved from Middlesex over the winter, having captained the county to their first domestic trophy in 15 years when they won the Twenty20 Cup in 2008. He has played 17 ODIs for England, scoring 107 as England beat Australia at Sydney in 2007. He was speaking to Sam Collins to promote Friends Provident’s sponsorship of the competition.

What have been the key factors in Sussex and Hampshire reaching the final of the FP Trophy?

Both teams have strength in depth. We’ve got about seven or eight guys who can bowl at some stage in the innings, a lot of seam options and spin as well. We bat down to 10 as well, and they are the same. We played them the other day in the Pro40 and they had Dimi Mascarenhas who nearly won the game for them coming in at seven and Dominic Cork at nine or 10 – very dangerous players down the order. What you can say about both sides is that they are never beaten, we both possess players who can change games.

How does the FP Trophy rank in the priorities for a county player?

It’s the only chance we have to get to a Lord’s final, and a Lord’s final is the biggest day in the domestic calendar. So it’s a massive thing for us. 50-over cricket is a major part of the international calendar, so in terms of England aspirations for the guys playing county cricket the 50-over game is very important. Winning the FP Trophy would rank just behind the County Championship.

How is your own form?

I’m very happy with my one-day cricket – I’ve worked out a method and it seems to be working for me. We were in three competitions at the start of the season and we’re still involved in all three so it would be nice to take at least one trophy home, starting on Saturday.

How are you enjoying your time down at Sussex?

I’m absolutely loving it. The guys here work tremendously hard – the coaches seem to be here 24/7, I hope they are paying them enough! There is a huge work ethic down here, and it’s smart work, not just work for the sake of it, very focused in what it’s trying to achieve. It shows in the results we’ve had this season, particularly in the one-day format.

How strange will it be for you returning to Lord’s with Sussex?

I went back there last month for a Twenty20 against Middlesex so I’ve got that bogey off my back. I have great memories from my nine or 10 years at Middlesex, so hopefully I can draw on that and pass on a bit of experience to the guys about playing at Lord’s.  I don’t think I’ve played there before in quite as big a game as this though so it will be a new experience for me and I’m looking forward to it. I won the T20 last year with Middlesex but it’s different this year with Sussex. Whereas Middlesex were unfancied last year we now possibly go into the game as favourites, although Hampshire have been playing well as well.

Have you got a dressing room at Sussex that will handle that pressure?

I think we do. We’ve got some older players passing down their experience – Murray Goodwin, James Kirtley, myself, Mike Yardy, Yasir Arafat and others – and some less experienced ones coming through like Rory Hamilton-Brown, Will Beer and Chris Nash and I think the balance works well. These young guys haven’t played in big games like this, and so are a bit wide-eyed and can go in and play with a bit of flair. So I think we’ll handle the pressure well.

What made you choose to move to Sussex from Middlesex?

Sussex has been a successful county over the last few years, and that helps, but you hear good things about a place and you want to be involved in that. I knew Mike Yardy pretty well from the academy and having been on a few England tours and with the A team as well. I saw him as a captain and liked how he led and what he stood for, and I liked the way Robbo (Mark Robinson) talked as well. I thought that the principles of Sussex were very desirable to come to. I didn’t want to move too far from London, because my wife still commutes up there so that was a factor but mainly it just felt like the right place to come.

What were the reasons for you leaving Middlesex?

A fresh start is the easiest explanation. I think when you’re working in the same place for a long time you can become stale. I’d certainly become that over the last few years, which was mainly my fault, so I felt a change would be a good way to spur me on to perform better. Proving myself to a new group of players was a big motivating factor, I felt like I needed something to give me a kick up the backside.  It’s proved a new lease of life for me, so I’m very glad I made that decision.

There were reports that Ed Smith had unsettled the Middlesex dressing room.

Ed Smith did a lot of good things at Middlesex. He was a good captain and I felt sorry for him not being involved in that T20 finals day as he had come up with a lot of the plans that we implemented throughout the tournament. It was a wrench for him not to be involved. Obviously he’s now retired, prematurely in my mind because he was a quality player. I was Ed’s vice-captain, we disagreed on a few things but also agreed on a lot as well, I think that’s just the way it works between a captain and vice-captain.

Jamie Dalrymple has also left Middlesex in the last few years, is it a problem for them that young players with international ambitions have had to leave the county to further them?

It’s obviously not ideal for Middlesex that myself and Jamie left, although not many others have done. The encouraging thing for Middlesex is that they are still producing young guys who are very close to getting into the England side – Eoin Morgan has made the breakthrough this year and Owais (Shah) is an England player, Straussy is there as well and you’ve got Dawid Malan who is a quality player. They do have to get their structure sorted out though, and come to a compromise with the MCC and Lord’s to get a better base at Lord’s and become a more consistent side. As the game becomes more professional they will need that to compete.

Do you still have unfinished business with England?

I’ve played 16 or 17 games for England, and done ok without doing brilliantly. I do feel a more complete player now and a better player, so I feel that if I get back in I’d give a better account of myself. There’s definitely unfinished business there, it means scoring more four-day runs I think. I have a burning ambition to try and play Test cricket – that is the ultimate, so it would be nice to have a go at that at some stage.

Did you encounter any bitterness over your decision to qualify for England?

Very, very minor. When I was in Australia with England I got a bit of heckling from a few guys in the crowd once but nothing sustained. Anyone who knows anything about cricket in Ireland knows how it works, certainly in the last few years. You had no real opportunity to play in big games for Ireland or to make a living out of the game. It was unrealistic to expect people not to make the switch over to England. It’s probably more realistic now to believe that people can make a living with Ireland because they are a much higher profile cricketing nation now and hopefully will continue to grow in the future. You can see that with the guys who are coming through, and hopefully they have more of an opportunity to play international cricket for Ireland and won’t have to go to England.

Do you see any potential for Ireland to achieve Test status?

I can’t see that happening in the foreseeable future because they just don’t have the structure to deal with a domestic system or to play Test matches and get the crowds in and sustain it financially.  It’s more realistic to see them playing more one-day cricket and perhaps get ODI status at some stage. That could happen in the next few years.

Sam Collins is website editor of

Posted in County cricket, England | 2 Comments »

King Cricket: We want to see Australia buckle

July 24th, 2009 by Alex Bowden in England, Test cricket, The Ashes

The best players, playing at their best – that’s what everyone wants to see, right? That’s what the Ashes is all about.

Actually, no. May the best team win? We’re starting to embrace the philosophy: ‘May England win, even if it’s only because Australia are rubbish’.

While England’s 2005 Ashes victory was all the sweeter for being against one of the best sides of all time, losing the return leg was no fun at all - and that’s the problem: great players, playing at their best, have a pretty decent chance of winning. We’ll have none of that.

Let’s take Mitchell Johnson for example. Here’s a man who’s lucky if he gets his arm in the correct sleeve getting dressed in the mornings, such is his aim at the moment. Would the next Test be more enjoyable if he found either line, length or both? No. Clearly it wouldn’t. We want to see him running in with his hand over one eye to help him focus better. We want to see him bowl a ball into his own kneecap.

Do we want to swoon at Ricky Ponting’s pull shot? No. We want to see him slip over and get run out for a duck without facing a ball. Do we want to see Brett Lee charging in attempting to rectify his risible bowling average against England? No. We want him to miss the next Test and maintain that average through his absence.

The best against the best is okay when it goes your way, but with results in doubt, we’d prefer a sure thing. Australia won the Ashes in ’89, ’91, ’93, ’95, ’97, ’99, ’01 and ’03. By the end of this sequence there were maybe three people in the whole of Australia who were even slightly bored with the relentless annihilation - and they perked up again for the 2006-07 series.

Do you want Australia to fight tooth and nail? We’d rather they buckled like a belt.

King Cricket blogs at He is a cult figure in the world of cricket blogs and was TWC’s first Best-of-blogs winner in April 2008.

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 1 Comment »

Peter Siddle: Bell for KP? We're happy with that

July 23rd, 2009 by peter siddle in England, Test cricket, The Ashes


So KP has had his operation and is out for the rest of the series. It’s always a relief when a player of his quality is not going to be available. It’s very handy for us, he’s a great player and is going to leave a big hole in their side. You could see even in Cardiff that his niggles were playing on his mind and that was even more obvious at Lord’s. I got him out twice there, it’s always good to get a class player like that, and it was a pleasing personal moment in a disappointing match.

It looks like Ian Bell is going to replace him. He played against us for the Lions and we assumed that if anything went wrong batting-wise he would be the man to come in. He hasn’t had a lot of success against us in the past, and it was pleasing that we were able to continue that by getting him out first-ball at Worcester. When you take out a bloke that averages 50 in Test cricket for a bloke that struggles against you it always makes you happier.

Defeat at Lord’s was disappointing, especially given our rich history there but we just have to regroup and get ready for the next Test. I don’t think much went wrong there, we just had a couple of sessions where we were off the boil and giving them a 200-run head-start on the first morning without taking a wicket cost us.

I felt crook during that first spell on Friday morning and was almost sick on the outfield but when it’s the last couple of wickets you always want to be out there and get a few more. I tried my best to get the last couple but in the end it got the better of me. I did manage to get Graeme Swann, I fired a short one at him and he nicked the next. I felt in much better rhythm at Lord’s than at Cardiff and although there were a couple of spells where I was a bit loose I was pleased with how I bowled.

Andrew Flintoff had a great game at Lord’s. He’s a great competitor, and that spell in the second innings was tremendous. He does a lot for the team – it seems to make them a lot happier and compete better when he’s out there. He’s performing somewhere near his best at the moment, he knows that he only has three more matches so he can afford to give it everything throughout the rest of the series.

I was his fifth wicket on Monday but he’d already nearly cleaned me up with a yorker that I ended up knocking for four. When I got to his end he was joking about saying “that was a good shot”. I told him I was just worried about it breaking my foot so I had to get the bat down as quickly as possible. We had a little giggle, he seems like a nice character out on the pitch. As a player you always enjoy playing against the best and performing well against them, and he is definitely one of them. Enjoy might be the wrong word because it’s tough facing someone like that but that is what Test cricket is about. He’s definitely the quickest bowler I’ve faced. Dale Steyn and I had a little duel in South Africa but the way Flintoff bowls with the ‘heavy ball’ makes him quicker.

Mitchell Johnson is obviously disappointed with how he went at Lord’s but he’s got a few more overs under his belt and there were some good signs – he bowled some quality deliveries. There were some overs where he felt back to his best and it’s a matter of pushing on and seeing what happens in Northants. Players are going to go through some bad times so it’s just a question of the boys sticking with them and showing faith to help them through. We’re still unsure over Brett Lee’s fitness, it’s the sort of injury that you don’t want to rush back from, so again we’ll know more after Northants. I don’t know if I’m playing, I feel 100% at the moment so I’m happy to get some more overs under my belt or rest up before the third Test.

We also met the Queen and Prince Phillip at Lord’s. Speaking to my grandparents about it, in their generation that sort of thing was a big deal but these days back in Australia it’s not as big as it was. It was a nice opportunity and something not a lot of people get to do. Prince Philip asked me what state I played for and when I told him Victoria he said, “Oooh, it would be very cold there at the moment.” I had to agree with him, it would be.

Peter Siddle is blogging for throughout the Ashes

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 4 Comments »

Alan Tyers: Analysing Mitchell Johnson

July 23rd, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket, The Ashes


I take a deep breath. I go to knock on the door of the hotel room. Miss, hit the doorframe. I try it again, focusing on keeping my arm high and straight this time. Got it, Troy! Right in the middle. It opens, I go in.

“Aw, g’day Mitchell,” says a man. He is about 60. He has a clipboard, like Mr Marsh and Mr Lillee. But he is not them. He has a white coat, and he is not drinking beer or making anybody cry by questioning their competitiveness in front of the leadership group.

“I’m Dr Bruce,” says the man. “I am the Australian team psychologist.”

“Hello,” I say. “I am Mitchell. I did not know we had a team psychologist.”

“It’s a new position,” says Dr Bruce. “There was never any need before, you see. The team wasn’t full of bloody poofters back in the good old days.”

“Oh,” I say. “I am not a poofter. My name is Mitchell and I am a bowling all-rounder.”

“Well, Mitchell,” says Dr Bruce. “I am here to reassure you and help you synergise the optimum possible environment for facilitating success.”

“My name is Mitchell and I am a bowling all-rounder,” I say. Perhaps this will make long words go away?

“Look mate,” says Dr Bruce. “Have a bit of a lie-down on this couch here. Shane Watson’s made it all lovely and warm.”

I lie down. Couch is a safe place? Couch is warm. Close eyes now. Drifting.

“Now then,” says Dr Bruce. “Tell me about your mother.”

Eyes open.

“I’m psychoanalysing you mate,” says Doctor Bruce. “Don’t worry, it’s perfectly safe. That Mike Brearley does it all the time, and he’s as clever as a dingo with two babies.”

“Not talking about mother,” I say. “Not talking to mother either. Not even texting. Mr Lillee cannot make me text.”

“Alright, alright calm down,” he says. “Save some of that anger for the Poms. Let’s try a bit of word association instead. I say a word, you say the first thing that comes into your head. There’s no need to be afraid.”


“Sorry?” says Doctor.

“Wides,” I say.

“Look we haven’t even started yet,” says Doctor. He is shouting. “For Christ’s sake try and concentrate.”


Doctor Bruce is quiet now. He writes on clipboard. For a long time. I think about girlfriend. She beat up Doctor? Beat Doctor! Everyone cheer, we are Australian Posh and Becks except with karate ninja skills and awesome big-hitting down the order.

“Look, Mitchell.”

Doctor is speaking again.

“Look, Mitchell,” says Doctor. “I’ve reviewed your case, and in this instance I believe the only possible remedy is a course of cranial percussive therapy. I am referring you to a specialist.”

I nod. Hungry now. Cheese sandwich?

“Just relax on the couch, and my colleague will be in to see you very shortly.”

Bye Doctor. Close eyes.

Open eyes.


Voice speak.

“Hello Mitchell,” says voice. “I am Doctor Mervyn Hughes and I will be treating you for your mental difficulties. The course of treatment will focus on me hitting you around the head with a cricket bat. Let’s get started, shall we?”

Treatment begins. I want mother now.

By Alan Tyers

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

« Previous Entries

Site by Anson Robson Marketing © 2011 The Wisden Cricketer All Rights Reserved