August 2009
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Peter Siddle: Headingley a must-win game for Australia

August 6th, 2009 by peter siddle in England, Test cricket, The Ashes


You may have read in the press that few of us went and watched Altrincham versus the Manchester United reserves on Tuesday night, which was good fun. I used to play as a kid and I’m a big Liverpool fan so it was great to watch. We even got out onto the pitch and took a few penalties. I’m more of an aggressive centre-half – I don’t have the silkiest of skills so I’m back there to boot the ball! It’s nice to have the distraction between back-to-back Tests, you go through a lot of mental strain during the matches and with such a short period off between Tests it’s important to get away from it all and cool your heels.

We get two days training in before the Test. The first one is the bigger session, while the day before it eases off and you get what you need done personally. Everyone is back fit for selection so yesterday’s session was intense – Brett Lee was coming in off his long run and bowling real well, so the batters were getting some good practice in before Headingley. It’s always tough for them when they’ve got all five quicks fit and competing for three or four places off their full runs, but they see it as beautiful preparation. With Brett it’s going to be a case of if the selectors feel he is match fit but all the signs seem positive, which is great for the squad. We don’t know much about the makeup of the team. All you can do is prepare like you’re going to play and ready to go if you get the nod.

Brad Haddin seems to be fine too which is a plus, although Graham Manou did well at Edgbaston. He had to sit around for a while as we batted first and then got a good nut off Jimmy Anderson when he was looking comfortable at the crease. It was pleasing to be part of his first catch, a handy one low to his left to get rid of Alastair Cook. I’m sure when the opportunity comes up again in the future he’ll be ready.

Michael Clarke had a little niggle in the ab but he’s coming along fine and has had a lot of time in the middle so the rest will do him good. He’s been excellent this series – he had his disappointments in 2005, but turned it around massively in 06-07 and he’s continued that here. He’s taken a lot of the batting pressure on his shoulders and has shown in this series what he is about.

The way he, Marcus North and Mike Hussey batted on the last day in Birmingham gave us a lot of confidence and gives us some momentum. We need to start well there, whether we bat or bowl. You want to win every Test you play but this is a must-win Test as we are 1-0 down. We need to win these next two Tests to stay at No.1 in the world rankings, and while we haven’t spoken about it, we are a proud team and want to keep that ranking.

Mitchell looked a lot more relaxed at Edgbaston, he bowled some great spells and he had that pace and aggression back. The ball also started swinging for him again. He’s starting to look like he’s getting back to where he wants to be, which is great for Australian cricket.

We know we have a good chance at Headingley. Ravi Bopara and Alastair Cook have been struggling for runs at the top of the England order and when guys are down on runs they are the ones you want to target and attack. We are looking to get on top of them early – even if we don’t get them out early we are looking to contain their scoring shots. Ian Bell showed his experience at Edgbaston, it’s always tough coming into the side for a player like Pietersen. He played to his game, didn’t try to show people what he can do, and the runs came for him.

England’s middle-order have been very positive against us, with Matt Prior and Andrew Flintoff they key aggressors. We expected that, that’s the way their gameplan is, but at times throughout this series Mitchell and myself haven’t been as tight and consistent as we normally are. The economy rate has been high as I said last week, but that is the way the game is played at the moment. It can be difficult when one team is on a roll to stop the scoring shots, so this Test we need to be more consistent and work harder on blocking off their runs.

All the bowlers on either side have had their moments over the series, Jimmy Anderson and Graham Onions were sensational on the second morning, but the next two Tests will come down to which bowlers can stand up and be the most consistently successful for their team.

There’s been a lot of talk about the crowd’s treatment of Ricky Ponting, but I didn’t notice too much of that. I think that’s just the way they were, they seemed to treat everyone the same and they weren’t too over the top. They weren’t disrespectful, I think when you go to play in another country you expect the crowds to be strongly behind the home team, the way ours are at home. It all adds to the excitement.

Peter Siddle is blogging for throughout the Ashes

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

Barmy Army spokesman Derek Telford* defends treatment of Australia

August 6th, 2009 by Alan Tyers in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket, The Ashes


The satisfying thwock of warm beer can on long leg’s head, the murmur of excitement as ‘You Are My Sunshine’ starts up on the trumpet for the 27th time that morning, the gentle ripple of obscenities as the opposition captain comes out to bat: the Barmy Army are an unforgettable part of the English cricket experience.

That’s why it was very sad this week to hear our members being accused of boorish behaviour in Birmingham.

Some of these fuddy-duddies are frankly living in the past: this is the 21st century, and cricket has to compete for the entertainment dollar like everything else. If you can go to a multiplex and shout out hilarious comments during the film, or go to a concert and talk loudly about the miles to the gallon you get in the Mondeo, then why would you go and watch cricket in near-silence?

Personally, I’m the sort of guy that can’t stand watching something passively. I have to be involved. For instance, I’ll be at home with the wife, watching Grey’s Anatomy of an evening, and I’ll liven things up with a bit of a sing-song: “Medical soap dramas! You only watch medical soap dramas!” that sort of thing.

Or I’ll sit behind her on the sofa and spill lager and ketchup down the back of her head. If she loses the rag, then I’ll go: “Ooooooooh handbags” or get some of my mates over to help glare at her until she goes and sits somewhere else. Like her sister’s house.

She thinks it’s hilarious: she gives as good as she gets with the banter and she’ll come right back with something like, “I’ve met someone else and I’m leaving you.” Great stuff and all in good fun.

Or if I’m at the cinema with like 35 of my closest mates – who wants to go anywhere on their own? Booooooring – and we’ll be watching the latest blockbuster with Russell Crowe, say. Every time Crowe comes on screen, we’ll boo. Or one of the boys will shout something brilliant at the screen like “Oi! Crowe! We’re building an idiot, can we borrow you?” which just goes to show that you can have a bit of humour, originality AND intelligence in the banter.

Crowe knows it’s just a bit of fun, and he doesn’t let it affect his performance. If only certain other Aussies were as tough, eh?

*Derek Telford may or may not represent the suppressed fervour of Alan Tyers

Posted in Alan Tyers, England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 2 Comments »

The TWC interview: Graham Manou

August 6th, 2009 by Sam Collins in Test cricket, The Ashes


Graham Manou came to England firmly as the Australian reserve wicketkeeper, before a dramatic late injury to Brad Haddin saw him make his Test debut at Edgbaston. He spoke to Sam Collins at the start of the tour about his late calling to international cricket and life as a reserve on tour.

How does it feel to be included in the Australian squad for the first time on an Ashes tour?

I’m a bit like a kid at Christmas, getting among the players and finding my feet. This is my first involvement with the Australian squad as I wasn’t part of Australia ‘A’ either. The guys have made it very easy for me.

It’s been a long time in terms of my journey. I’ve played 10 years of first class cricket in Australia and am captaining my state (South Australia) at the moment.

Did you know most of the guys before coming here?

I’ve played against them a fair bit. I’ve been with them at different sort of academies; so I’ve come across a few. Probably the two guys I’ve not had so much to do with are Ponting and Clarke, so probably the two most vital guys.

Have you been over here before?

I did spend probably half a winter playing cricket in Scotland for Pennycook, which is about 12 miles from Edinburgh. It was interesting – it was a pretty wet summer and I actually hurt my back while trying to bowl a bit but it was quite fun.

At 30, did you think your time had gone with Australia?

Yeah, certainly did. Especially since Brad Haddin and I are of similar age and he has been the incumbent for a long time. And up until last few years I didn’t think I had done enough to fill that position. But when you see guys like Michael Hussey who have come in quite late and have done well, you sort of get re-energised and thankfully I have been given an opportunity. It might only be an opportunity for 12 months but I am certainly willing to take it.

What is it like coming as a reserve?

It is a pretty tough gig. In some respects you are trying to prepare in case someone gets injured. You are trying to prepare yourself to play but you’ve got to be mindful that you don’t over step the boundaries of your team-mates, who are there to have first crack at it. The best part has been that you get to be part of a great group of cricketers. It is the learning curve of the game and what I will be taking back home will be invaluable.

Did you run a few scenarios through your head, like what would happen if Brad Haddin takes one on the finger?

I hadn’t until I arrived in London. I then realised how big and intense this series is, and if he [Brad] did that, am I going to be prepared? But I’ve always known that there should be no excuse for me if the worst-case scenario did happen. The facilities here are wonderful and the set-up is second to none.

What style of a batsman are you? Adam Gilchrist and Brad Haddin are both attacking batsmen.

My glove-work has always been one of my strengths. But batting has become more of a focal point of my game now. I take little more time to get in but then when I do get in I play aggressively. I think that has been a trend since Gilly came into the world scene. He has changed the way you look at playing. I play shots but I am not as over attacking as those two. But once I get going, I don’t mind chucking myself at it.

Have you worked with English keepers? Do you think they are different from the Australians?

I have done little bit of work with them in Australia. Some of the younger guys come through to Darren Lehmann Academy. They do have a different style than what we are used to. I guess they aren’t renowned for moving their feet much and the way they take the ball is different. But they assure me conditions over here, once the ball passes the wickets, are different. At times it can be difficult.

As a wicket-keeper do you feel the pressure to score runs?

I certainly do. In my state, I fell foul of that. A couple of times in my career the selectors have dropped me because they wanted a batsman first. A lot of the keepers coming through now are top quality batsmen. That is because nowadays there are not many specialist wicket-keeping coaches. But I am strong a believer that you should pick your best keeper and the runs that I get are just a bonus.

Does not having a Warne or MacGill make your job easier?

It does in some regards. But then we’ve got brilliant fast bowlers who keep you on your toes although you’d love to have a Warne and MacGill in your side. Because if you are able to keep well to those guys, you are judged accordingly. But Nathan Hauritz is challenging and key in certain conditions. You certainly want to keep to the best and I think that’s what these Australian guys are.

Sam Collins is website editor of

Posted in Test cricket, The Ashes | No Comments »

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