Filed under: Cricket | Tags: andrew strauss, Ashes, australia, batting, bowling, Cricket, draw, england, jimmy anderson, monty panesar, paul collingwood, pietersen, ricky ponting
The Swalec Stadium in Cardiff honoured its historic debut as the 100th Test venue by producing a cricket match so gripping many will be suffering slight malnourishment after a two day diet exclusively of chewed fingernails.
Jimmy Anderson and Monty Panesar deserve the plaudits being heaped upon them, surviving 69 deliveries to seal the draw. Yet the real hero of England’s second innings is undoubtedly Paul Collingwood, whose valiant 344 minutes at the crease displayed the temperament and gritty determination needed to succeed in top-flight Test cricket.
Escaping defeat in Cardiff will be a greater psychological boost for England than victory would have been for Australia. But let’s not get carried away. Strauss certainly isn’t:
‘We’re not going to sit here and pretend we are happy with the way we performed this week. We were down on where we needed to be, and Australia showed us they are going to be a tough nut to crack, no doubt, and we need to get better.’
England were totally outplayed until the final day of this Test match. On a slow pitch made for easy runs, the two top orders illustrated the difference in standard. Over two innings, England’s top five managed 314 runs. Australia’s scored 394 runs in one.
Perhaps this is a little misleading. After all, Strauss’ men were batting for a draw in their second innings; run scoring was not a priority. The order of the day was to bat out four sessions. Unfortunately, England’s batsmen are shown up once more; the top four managed just 119 minutes of defensive batting between them. On a dead pitch. Without facing Brett Lee.
A good point at which to turn to England’s bowlers. It was disconcerting to see the Australians exploit the difficult conditions far more effectively than England. Hilfenhaus found movement where Anderson couldn’t. Hauritz found more turn and bounce than either Panesar or Swann, who had his first poor bowling performance since returning to the squad.
Stuart Broad was ineffective and expensive, while Flintoff bowled 35 overs; far more than his remit as a short spell strike bowler should entail. Strauss seemed short of ideas, other than relying on Collingwood’s tame cutters to find a break through.
There was no inventiveness in his field settings, and when you’ve leaked 500 runs, why not throw the ball to Kevin Pietersen? Ricky Ponting turned to Simon Katich and Marcus North for something different. To no real avail, sure, but his willingness to try alternative measures is the important factor.
There’s a lot to do before Lords on Thursday, and don’t be surprised if Steve Harmison is recalled to lead the bowling attack.
Still, at least we got under Ponting’s skin again with some good old-fashioned timewasting. Now we just need Gary Pratt at extra cover.
Filed under: Cricket | Tags: British press, Cricket, england, pietersen, press image
We’re all used to hearing – if we’ve not said it ourselves – the old adage: “Honestly mate, if I was [insert England sports team/federation here] manager, I’d have it sorted.” This is usually followed by the statutory grunts and murmurs of assent, a clinking of pint glasses and another quid in the Itbox. Fair enough, we’re all entitled to feel this way every now and then as dedicated, paying sport fans.
But then you think about the complications and intracacies that these select people have to deal with. Once home, you re-evaluate your comments and give yourself a mental kick in the privates. Of course you can’t do it, idiot, that’s why you’re not doing it. You resolve to put this right at the next gathering. Job done.
However, if you’re an England cricket fan, shout those timeless words proudly. For nobody can claim they did not see Kevin Pietersen’s wranglings with coach Peter Moores ending any other way, except good old Giles Clarke. Prostituting English limited-over cricket to Alan Stanford wasn’t enough, he had to trump it with feigned ignorance of these troubling issues. As Nasser Hussein puts it:
“It’s something that could have been avoided if people had gone about it the right way, and they’ve certainly not gone about it the right way. The ECB knew when they gave Kevin Pietersen the job what sort of guy he is.”
Everybody saw the signs: selection disputes, the Stanford debacle, factions over returning to India, a divided front to the press. Yet the ECB couldn’t deal with the issues internally, and the dirty laundry was publicly aired.
Not that I’m letting KP off the hook. Going to the papers is a cardinal sin of professionalism if you ask me and one that hasn’t helped those who take this road. No one’s setting up an Ashley Cole fan club.
Already the excitement surrounding the 2009 Ashes is palpable. Turn to BBC Sport in the immediate aftermath of Australia’s series defeat in India, and Oliver Brett is looking ahead to next summer.
There is, however, the small matter of England’s own sub-continent tour before then. India are fired up from their win – a convincing one at that – and relished the opportunity to mete out even greater punishment to Kevin Pietersen’s men.
The danger of buying into the KP captaincy hype has revealed itself. Today, he was akin to a child probing every available escape route from the bullies chasing him, and yet finding them inexplicably waiting around each corner. Peter Moores said it best, so I don’t have to labour any further:
“We were thoroughly outplayed but we need to come back stronger.”
A strong contender for the understatement of 2008.
Yet prior to today’s debacle, the victorious Indians, England’s current opponents, have played second fiddle in the media stakes to the losing Aussies, who don’t land on this island for another six months. The dynamic of sports writing turned on its head for a moment. Very puzzling.
The attraction of the Ashes undoubtedly dictates the cricket news agenda. However, India is a large obstacle in England’s way before then, with a fresh seam attack, world-class batting and fierce self-belief. Today’s pummelling rings out a clear message to the cricket media: the Ashes can wait a few weeks.