Andrew Hilditch: A Selecting Legend?

10 01 2011

Something now that is a couple of days old, yet we have only just seen it and we couldn’t resist writing something quickly about it…

Andrew Hilditch, Australia’s Chairman of Selectors, believe that the selection panel ‘have done a very good job’. Instead of accepting any blame for the Australian Ashes debacle he has laid all the problems at the players doors saying they were outplayed and didn’t perform as well as they should. The article hits quite an amusing note so we would recommend you read it, but while we’re at it, let’s just have a look at some of the selections and rate how they went…

  1. Started the series by picking a squad of 17 players demonstrating that they didn’t really have a clue what side made up their best eleven. Can’t have given the players much confidence so this is gets a bad rating.
  2. Left out Nathan Hauritz and picked Xavier Doherty. Hauritz had had a nightmare tour against Sachin Tendulkar and company, yet he is hardly alone in that (even the great Shane Warne had a poor record in India) and Doherty was called up despite having a worse than useless first class record. Another bad selection.
  3. Bollinger wasn’t allowed to play for his state prior to the first test causing Australia’s bowler with the best record over the last year to be left out in the first test, only to be called up and dropped when he was clearly not match fit in Adelaide. Definitely a case of bad selection planning.
  4. In a rare good selection, Hussey was picked despite enormous pressure from the media for him to be dropped and immediately justified his place.
  5. After Doherty ever so predictably failed miserably, the selectors, having backed themselves into a corner, apparently read Shane Warne’s piece in the Daily Telegraph suggesting Michael Beer and promptly picked him. Never mind that Hauritz had scored a hundred and taken six wickets in his previous two state games… Clearly a bad piece of selecting.
  6. Hilditch himself then said that Beer could then look forward to his debut at Perth but on the morning of the game was dropped. After dropping Johnson for Adelaide the Aussie selectors welcomed him back into the fold for Perth by saying they had ‘always planned to rest him’ in the second test. These are two further examples of extremely bad and misleading man management although in the selector’s favour…
  7. …Johnson did take 9 wickets in the match. A good if lucky selection considering you simply do not know what you’re going to get with old Mitchell J.
  8. Playing four front line seamers and no spinner at the MCG. Watson, Australia’s usual fourth seamer, was also playing meaning that this had to be about the most badly balanced attack the Aussies have fielded for some time. Again a bad selection which was not thought through. Even Beer would have helped them at the MCG.
  9. Steven Smith. Not a number six. Not a bowler. Claps well in the field though… An appallingly bad selection.

So there we have it – seven bads and two goods (one of which was the equivalent of a dice roll and therefore can almost not be claimed by the selectors) which seems to suggest that Hilditch is living in cloud cuckoo land!

The fact that we as English supporters feel quite outraged by his ostrich impression suggests that he will be in serious danger from the average Australian fan should they get hold of him!

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Ashes Review: Australia (Player by Player)

8 01 2011

Simon Katich (97 runs @ 24.25)

Unfortunately for Australia, Katich’s injury robbed them of perhaps their most consistent player over the past 18 months and some much needed solidity at the top of the order. Got starts in both games before being found out by a combination of Shane Watson’s running and the moving ball. Doubtful perhaps whether he will ever play again although Phil Hughes travails at the top of the order had most Australian’s wishing Katich was still there.

Rating: 5.5/10

Shane Watson (435 runs @48.33, 3 wickets @ 74.33)

Watson must be a frustrating character to have in the team you support. Obviously hugely talented, a fine stroke player and someone who rarely fails. Unfortunately Watson inhabits that middle ground though of not failing but never quite succeeding which, if Australia are honest, is one of the major reasons why their batting never quite fired. Openers are there to score hundreds and on this basis, despite Watson being Australia’s second most successful batsman, he shouldn’t be at the top of the order.

Surprisingly underused as a bowling option although this was as much to do this Australia’s strange selection policies rather than his skippers apathy towards his bowling. Watson is a very decent fourth seamer so why play four front line fast bowlers?!

Rating: 6.5/10

Phil Hughes (97 runs @ 16.16)

Hughes is not currently a test match opener. Against attacks who don’t swing the ball perhaps he might succeed, but any bowler who moves it off the straight will always find him out. Clearly talented and possesses a reasonable temperament so the rudimentary elements are there and it is paramount that Australia work with him. Struggled against Tremlett in particular and is surely going to be returned to state cricket for the foreseeable future.

Rating: 3/10

Ricky Ponting (113 runs @16.14)

We never thought we would see Ricky Ponting struggle against England as much as he did in this series. The pressure, his middling form and perhaps his age all contributed to a series performance which has perhaps meant the end of his career. Possible that lack of other options will continue to ensure he is picked but unlike the other modern great, Sachin Tendulkar, his time appears to be up.

Didn’t look in bad touch entirely as a number of rasping pull shots indicated and he habitually got to 10 or 12 before nicking Anderson or one of the other England bowlers to slip. The catch by Collingwood to dismiss him at Perth will live long in the memory.

Captaincy is always difficult when you’re under the cosh and this was no exception. Often appeared to run out of ideas and could perhaps have stood up for a better balanced side the MCG.

Rating: 3/10

Usman Khawaja (58 runs @ 29.00)

To hear the Australian press you would think a modern Don Bradman had been discovered. Whilst this is clearly over the top and a testimony to the paucity of good news for any Aussie supporter, he did look the part and should be around for some time. Confident, composed and with a lovely pull shot was one bright spot in the Sydney thumping.

Rating: 5/10

Michael Clarke (193 runs @ 21.44)

When your captain and vice-captain average 16 and 21 you know you’re in for a tough series. A shadow of the player he has been in the past and it looks like the scorn the Aussie media and fans alike show for him is finally getting to him. His one major innings came in a losing cause at Adelaide although it tells you all you need to know about his series when you consider a part timer, Pietersen, dismissed him off practically the last ball of the day to set up and England win the following morning.

Showed some good signs captaining initially with some interesting field placings and willingness to do things his own way but was eventually simply overwhelmed by the English juggernaut.

Rating: 3/10

Michael Hussey (570 runs @ 63.33)

Brilliant for the first three tests, it was astonishing to think that Hussey was on the verge of being dropped at the beginning of the series. Almost singlehandedly kept Australia in it in the early stages of the Ashes and his partnership with Haddin at the Gabba was a once in a career performance whilst his hundred at Perth set up the win for the Aussies. The problem is that no one else supported him.

Rating: 8/10

Marcus North (49 runs @ 16.33)

Finally dropped despite scoring very few runs for some time. Probably not a test player on balance as despite his hundreds he scores too many innings below 10. Useful bowling and on that basis alone could have probably played instead of Xavier Doherty.

Rating: 2/10

Steven Smith (159 runs @ 51.80, 0 wickets)

Australia used to laugh at the English when they selected a bit part player but now the boot is on the other foot. Clearly not a number six player due to a technique with more holes in than your average sieve, he looked more comfortable when at seven. The fact that he then was hardly bowled suggest that Australia would have probably been better off without him in the team. Selecting a specialist batsmen at number 7 is something that not many sides do after all…

Rating: 2/10

Brad Haddin

The one player that would possibly get into England’s side on a form basis although even his contributions tailed off by the middle of the series. An excellent hundred at the Gabba and some uncomplicated wicket keeping mean that he, like Hussey, was one of the few who could put their hand up and say they contributed. Latterly, Australia’s vice captain as well.

Rating: 7/10

Mitchell Johnson (122 runs @ 17.42, 15 wickets @ 36.93)

If Johnson could reverse the averages achieved for batting and bowling he would be a devastating all rounder indeed. Chronically inconsistent he is undoubtedly the Australian version of Steve Harmison – someone who when on song is an incredibly dangerous player but, sadly, is rarely on song. His spell in Perth won the match and was reminiscent of Wasim Akram at his best and, even when bowling poorly, still has the habit of picking up the odd wicket here or there. Unfortunately this is negated by the fact he is going for over four an over.

Rating: 5.5/10

Peter Siddle (14 wickets @ 34.57)

Workmanlike, ever willing but only occasionally dangerous, Siddle was nevertheless probably Australia’s best bowler. A memorable hat trick at the Gabba followed by six wickets at the MCG, he only took two other wickets outside of these two venues. Solid lower order batting of the best annoying tail end variety his efforts were ultimately not nearly enough.

Rating: 6.5/10

Ryan Harris (11 wickets @ 25.54)

Harris is a bowler who appears to be without much about him yet was in his three games prior to injury, was undoubtedly Australia’s best and most consistent bowler. Hurried England’s batsman and moved it enough to be a threat. Will want to forget his King Pair in Adelaide though.

Rating: 7.5/10

Ben Hilfenhaus (7 wickets @ 59.28)

Despite taking a wicket with the third ball of the series, Hilfenhaus consistently struggled. Little swing and not a great deal of pace meant that in spite of his consistency (his economy rate was 2.62 in four games) he was ineffective all series long.

Rating: 2/10

Doug Bollinger (1 wicket @ 130.00)

Someone we feel who was a victim of the selectors ridiculous whims and was clearly unfit at Adelaide. When totally match fit someone we feel who is still amongst the best four bowlers Australia have.

Rating: 1/10

Xavier Doherty (3 wickets @ 102)

Remember him? It seems an age ago now, but Doherty was flawed pick right from the start. An appalling first class record was not belied by his performances and his time is unlikely to come again. Did get KP out – on 227.

Rating: 2/10

Michael Beer (1 wicket @ 112)

The man whose name inspired a thousand awful puns and was another ridiculous pick by the selectors. With only five first class games under his belt he did at least look better than Doherty, yet may quickly find himself on the scrap heap anyway. Still someone who is not going to run through a side.

Rating: 2/10





The Gabba, Day 5: More of the same please!

29 11 2010

England 260 & 517-1 drew with Australia 481 & 107-1

Well done Alistair Cook. Well done Andrew Strauss. Well done Jonathan Trott.

What a scorecard! (Just in case you have forgotten – here it is writ large…)

Perfection.

Through the dark days of the ‘90’s and early 2000’s we dreamt of waking up to see a scorecard along these lines and, whilst it wasn’t topped off with a win, it was worth the wait! That it came in Australia only serves to make it all the sweeter as deep down, behind most of the cautious and wildly optimistic, every Englishman would own up to a crawling, sneaking worry in their guts that things hadn’t changed. Now, with one of those draws that feels a bit like a win under their belts, and a clear demonstration of what our heads, if not our hearts, already knew those latent fears have been assuaged.

Yes it is true that it was Australia in a winning position on Saturday morning and, realistically, England never had much of a shot at it but, despite all this, it will be England who are feeling happiest. In our opinion, this Ashes will probably come down to a combination of belief and having a settled side that knows their roles exactly. England have this but Australia only have one of those necessary components. We have little doubt that the Australians still believe they can win but it would be unlikely if they were to do that in amongst so much potential chopping and changing. Not, of course, that it is a given they will change players for Adelaide but, if we were a betting syndicate, we’d lay a lot of money on them changing two or perhaps even three.

Firstly, Bollinger has to come in for Johnson. Hardly a revolutionary statement but one which is so full of validity that it’s practically over flowing. Siddle has taken six wickets so he’s safe at least, Hilfenhaus was one of the few bowlers to look reasonable in India so we feel that it would be a mistake to drop him. Doherty of course is a spinner (more on whom in a minute) which leaves old Mitchell. Probably the biggest insult I could give him, although if reversed it could also be conceivable that it is a compliment, is that he is definitely the Australian Steve Harmison. On a good day devastating but sadly ineffective and leaking runs the rest of the time.

Doherty is the other who will be concerned although it would be unfair in the extreme to drop him immediately. The Australian spin bowling revolving door was not wedged shut by his performance at the Gabba, something that was hardly unexpected as he simply looked exactly what he is – an average state bowler whose not going to let anyone down but equally not going  to run through a test side on a fifth day pitch. We have heard some people mention the possibility of two spinners at Adelaide in which case Hauritz might come back but all this would achieve is to make the Australian selectors look stupid. They got two of their selection calls right – Hussey and Siddle – but remain as confused as ever about the third.

Inevitably it is Marcus North who is the batsman (or bowling all rounder as someone wittily put it) under pressure but, with the squad for the second test already announced, and with only 6 front line batsman in it, it is safe to say he will play. There is a chance that Doherty could be dropped and North could provide the spin option (a suggestion that is not that foolish as North has a better first class record than Australia’s premier spinner…) but this would not satisfy most Australians who want to see him cast out forever, never to return.

From England’s point of view it is easy. Same side again and, providing England can deliver upfront a little better, it could well be happy days for English fans. With a bit more luck Anderson and company will be in business and if this happens – well, Australia are there for the taking.

Mind you – Australia will be saying they were the ones that were in the winning position and, therefore, it’s England who are there for the taking….

Thoughts please!

 





Dingo’s Rant: An Aussie’s Ashes Predictions

24 11 2010

More from our increasingly nervous resident Aussie:

“The aim of English cricket is, in fact, mainly to beat Australia.” Jim Laker.

So here we go again.

A confident, conquering English cricket team struts into town to pour misery on an already sorrowful Aussie cricket team.

Hang on… I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s meant to read! How did it come to this? We all knew Australian cricket was on the slide – but being the underdogs against the pommies on home soil? It’s all too much to bear.

The Australian selectors have decided to stick with generally the same team that’s been continually losing for the past couple of years – some close games mind you – but losses none the less.

One small change to be noted; the left arm slow bowler, Xavier Doherty, comes in for Hauritz – assumedly, perhaps, because Kevin Pietersen has a knack of getting out to bowlers of this type. Besides, Hauritz was neither taking wickets, nor holding up an end or even getting runs with the bat. Other than that, of course, he was not doing a whole lot wrong.

Hussey has retained his spot. In days of old, senior players were retained during bad form; doing so to enable them to retire gracefully or with a bang, but, with world class players liberally dotted about the team – this was easy to do. A team of Waughs, Haydens and Gilchrists could be counted on to carry an out of form player. Hussey has never really done enough for the baggy green to deserve this favour and there’s simply not enough in form players around him to cover.

Luckily for him, his understudies have also not done enough to state unequivocally their cause. With both Ferguson and  Khawaja failing quite miserably in the Australia A versus England warm up match. So Hussey stays and North also gets another shot – much to the chagrin of most supporters.

Ponting gets older and so his inability to play the short ball, or anything aimed at the stumps, leaves him looking a little fragile. The openers at least look settled and should provide a few runs before the ball becomes worn and all batsmen become clueless against the guile and skill of England’s trump card, Graeme Swann.

This is where we’re hoping Clarke, crook back and all, will hopefully dance his way around the crease and gather a few crucial runs. He may not be well liked by the Australian public with his carefully manicured image grating on most people’s nerves, but If he wins us back the urn through his batting – we’ll let it slide!

Bollinger will take wickets as long as his toupee stays secure. Hilfenhaus will bowl. A lot. And Johnson will try to aim the ball somewhere near the batsmen and, once every 4 overs, will bowl that unplayable delivery that will either take a wicket or knock someone’s teeth out. He, along with Siddle, have said they feel Strauss is the key wicket and will target getting his wicket with a barrage short deliveries.

Two things here: First; why are we targeting just one player? Perhaps targeting all 11 would seem a better plan… Second; with the short balls being feasted on recently by the visiting Sri Lankans, maybe bowling stump to stump would be a little more productive? Especially at tail-enders against whom we have struggled recently.

So, getting down to it, here’s how I see it:

Most Wickets

With the abundance of rain recently England will feel a little more at home; the ball will probably even swing a bit so Broad will be a definite handful. However, Swann be the man and will continue to bamboozle the Australians and most probably take about 89 wickets. For Australia, Johnson will knock out most of the top order (retired hurt counts as a wicket in my eyes) so we’ll go with him.

Most runs

According to the great Shane Warne, unless England stroke KP’s ego, he’ll sulk his way into mediocrity. Alistair Cook is still rubbish and Strauss apparently will be the only player Australia targets, but, I think It’ll be Bell who finally steps up and nurdles his way to be England’s top run gatherer. For Australia – boy that’s tough…  I’m going to go with Clarke as long as his back holds up – he does have the temperament to get things done in tough conditions.

Who will get the Urn?

As for the outcome…  Well England have powered through their warm up matches. Everyone looks in good nick and the camp is full of confidence.

But – it’s not going to be their year. I’ll back Australia to come through. Their build up has been lackluster; their recent record abysmal; and every second man is carrying a niggle – but they’re at home; their backs are against the wall and we love a good fight. (I predict also it’ll be a wonderful fight!)

Australia 2-1.





The Compulsive Hooker’s Ashes Predictions

23 11 2010

Nb. Anyone planning on putting on any bets for the series would do well to ignore our thoughts – we’re rarely, if ever, right!

With the pre Ashes hype becoming almost unbearable in the last few days and the number of articles being offered for general consumption increasing exponentially and reaching (what is hopefully) a fevered peak; we feel that the time has come to finally offer our predictions for the series ahead.In two days time, a matter of a little over 36 hours from now, the Ashes 2010/11 will commence and all the talking will go out the window. Those who can walk the walk will shape this series and live long in the memory; whilst the remainder will become the forgotten chaff of yet another season.

Up until this point we have tried to dodge binding statements of what we believe is going to happen for fear of being proved hopelessly wrong, although, it has to be said, regular readers will probably have worked out what we are going to say already. If you have we apologise for what you might feel is an entirely unnecessary and repetitive article… For everyone else – read on.

Leading Run Scorers:

We believe that, fitness permitting, the leading run scorers on either side will be Michael Clarke and Kevin Pietersen. Clarke because we feel that despite all the recent criticism directed at him for his limited overs batting will show that he is now the most important player in the Australian test line up. His class and mental abilities under pressure have never been in doubt and we think this will be a big series for him. If Clarke’s back gets the better of him we think it could well be Simon Katich in his place at the head of the run chart. For England KP has long been a player who thrives on a challenge. We think this will be the series he gets his mojo back and plays two or three crucial innings.

Leading Wicket Takers:

A difficult one this one with the mercurial talents of Johnson competing with the more predictable methods of Siddle, Hilfenhaus et al. Also difficult as, with the Australian selectors in a minor tizzy, the make-up of their first eleven is not certain and it’s possible our pick will not even get a start… Nevertheless we are going to plump for Doug Bollinger whose brand of fast left arm is, to us anyway, the scariest prospect for England’s batsman. For England, we would suggest that Stuart Broad will be the main danger. Despite the competing claims of Swann, we think that Broad is now one of the premier fast bowlers in the world and on the Aussie pitches will be a serious prospect.

The Keeper Battle:

Neither of these keepers would be first on the list for a ‘Gentleman’s World XI’ or even come near to the top of the ‘Tidiest Keeper’s awards’ yet both are highly effective players and their battle promises to be a long and intriguing one. Prior’s batting should revel in the quicker pitches he will encounter whereas it is of course Haddin’s own stomping ground. On the keeping side we believe Prior now has the edge despite a terrible start to his career as a test player with the gloves and, it is with this reason in mind, we are going to pick the Englishman. Matt Prior to shade this battle.

Who Will Keep The Urn?

As we mentioned before, going by our heart we are going to have to choose Australia to win as we are concerned, should we pick England, we will irrevocably harm their prospects. However, trying to remember that nothing we can write or say will have any effect on England’s chances, we will try now to pick objectively…

Here goes…

A crucial point to remember is that England don’t have to win to retain the Ashes – if it’s a drawn series England keep that all important little urn. With that in mind, and considering we have never been averse to a little fence sitting, we are going to go for a 2-2 draw and England to come home with their honour intact.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?





Aussie Squad For 1st Ashes Test: A Confused Selection?

15 11 2010

As promised, the Australian squad for the first Ashes test was announced this morning. Bizarrely however, rather than the usual 12 or possibly 13 a board would normally name for a home test, a bloated squad of 17 players has been announced. We, the fans, already knew that there was a degree of confusion as to the Australian selector’s views on the best eleven – yet we didn’t quite expect this.

In the squad there are:

  • 7 batsmen (Katich, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, North, Khawaja, Ferguson)
  • 2 all rounders (Smith and Watson)
  • 1 keeper (Haddin)
  • 2 spinners (Doherty and Hauritz)
  • 5 seamers (Johnson, Bollinger, Harris, Siddle and Hilfenhaus)

This is a tour squad for a 5 test series – not one for a single test!

What we suspect is going to happen is that after much praising of the youngsters and talking about their various ‘big futures’ the eleven will line up as follows:

  1. Watson
  2. Katich
  3. Ponting
  4. Clarke
  5. Hussey
  6. North
  7. Haddin
  8. Johnson
  9. Hauritz
  10. Siddle
  11. Bollinger

Essentially more or less exactly the same as the side that just lost to India 2-0 and, from an English point of view, exactly the one we would want to face. The only confusion here would be who to play out of the seamers as one of Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Bollinger would have to bow out.

An alternative side (and one which we would feel more nervous playing against) would see Smith come in for Hauritz, and Khawaja and Ferguson in for Hussey and North. Mind you if the Compulsive Hooker had been asked our opinion by the ACB we might have recommended the two Phils, Jacques and Hughes, as well. After all there is not much difference between 17 and 19 is there?

If the Aussies do name the 12 as above (with possible variations on the seamers) quite frankly it all seems a ridiculous exercise and one that can’t help but give the English a little more confidence. This Ashes is being competed by two ‘mid table’ sides and, without either side having the true stand out players of the early part of the decade,  confidence and a settled side may well end up being the deciding factor.

If we were Australian we’d be worried that all Andrew Hilditch and company are doing is undermining this!





England vs Australia Series Wrap

4 07 2010

Australia, having found their usual one day form over the last two one dayers, ensured yesterday that neither side will go into the Ashes in November with any bragging rights at all. This was always likely to be a series of little relevance and so it has proved. Interesting entertainment, enjoyable cricket and has allowed one or two to state their cases once more, but other than that not much meaning.

The point has been raised that by having a series like this it devalues the meaning of a genuine Ashes contest, but in our opinion, this is not the case. It has served as a tasty hors d’oeuvres and in that sense is welcome – Ashes cricket after all is about test cricket, no other form, and therefore the Compulsive Hooker has little problem with our appetites being whetted. Coming as it did after some long months of pretty uninteresting cricket against Bangladesh it was a welcome relief to be honest! (But never fear – fans of uninspiring cricket have more to come with a further three one day games against Bangladesh this month!)

If the result has little relevance; what did we learn?

What we have learnt is that looking at the averages seems to mean little when looking at who was dominant over who. Australia had four regular bowlers averaging under 30 with the ball and all conceding less than five runs an over. England on the other hand had two bowlers averaging under 30 and most still going at over five an over. Yet England won 3-2! Things were more even on the batting, but it is an interesting aside to see that once again as in the Ashes, England seem to have won the crucial exchanges without dominating in terms of wickets taken.

First of all the bowling. It is clear that an Australian attack with Shaun Tait in it is a much more fearsome thing than without him. Yesterday Tait bowled a ball clocked at 100 miles an hour, only slightly slower than Shoaib Akhtar’s record, and ripped the heart out of England’s batting. Demonstrating just how difficult it is to bat against such extreme pace; Tait took 8 wickets at 12.38 and went for less than four runs an over! Predictably there has already been talk about whether he might return to the longer forms of the game with one eye on the Ashes, and worrying as that prospect is for Englishman, it is unlikely to happen given Tait’s record at breaking down if required to bowl more than 8-10 overs a day.

Likewise Harris also proved a handful on occasions, taking 10 wickets in four games, with his ability to bowl up above the 90 mile an hour mark suggesting that he is around to stay for a while. With Bollinger also thrown into the mix and Hilfenhaus, Siddle and possibly even another young gun like Hazlewood to come in, the Australian bowling stocks don’t look bad at all.

For England it was a different story with only Swann and Broad really having good series. Anderson had his moments too, notably at Old Trafford, yet in three of the five games he went for more than sixty in his allotted overs and yesterday for 75. Bresnan also belied his recently acquired status as a good limited overs operator with only one wicket in the series. Call us fickle but, having witnessed his performances in this series, we are doubly concerned about any potential Ashes involvement he might have! As an opening bowler Sidebottom would surely have been a better selection (limited as he is also by conditions), but Bresnan’s batting in the end saved him (mostly) from our ire. Swann, who despite being strangely under bowled, was his usual excellent self and these days really is the heart of this England team.

The batting was strangely inconsistent for both sides in this series with almost everyone contributing something at some point. The much maligned Clarke top scored for Australia and did much to win the fourth match for them, although the pedestrian finish to his 87 not out at the Rose Bowl also possibly lost them that match. Watson got starts without going on and looked in a continual sulk; all of White, Hussey and Ponting contributed well at some point; but on the whole the batting was fractured with generally only one man performing at a time.

England’s batting was also mixed. Strauss proved he can score quickly enough to be a threat at the top of the order although, despite his 87 in the third match, he is guilty perhaps of not going on and taking the game away from the opposition. Morgan won the man of the series award for his excellent contributions in the first three games – his hundred at the Rose Bowl was a brilliant exhibition of how to pace an innings. Collingwood had a quieter series but showed his worth last night with an excellent 95 as all others struggled against the extreme pace and Bresnan did well at 7. The notable failures were Kieswetter, KP and Wright though for varying reasons.

KP looked in great touch but was too frenetic, looking to smash everything for four; Kieswetter was undone by a mixture of good bowling and poor shot selection but deserves another chance. Wright on the other hand, despite his important 35 at the Rose Bowl, looks too high up the order at six which begs the question – what is he there for? Currently he appears to be doing the Mark Ealham bits and pieces role from a front line batters spot which is probably a luxury England can’t afford come the world cup next year.

All in all it was an entertaining series and one that should encourage England for having won with only three batsman really firing. The potential shortfalls are easily apparent though and it will be Andy Flower’s priority to remedy those over the next 9 months up until World Cup time. Australia on the other hand won’t feel despondent and Ponting will be pleased with the way one or two have come through and taken responsibility, particularly in the last two matches. There is a depth to Australian cricket that means they are rarely going to be too far off the pace and so it showed here.








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