Aussies in a spin!
December 8, 2010

It is 23 long years since England last brought back the Ashes from down under. On that occasion Mike Gatting’s team won the series 2-1 and the man of the series was Notts opening batsman Chris Broad who scored centuries in three consecutive tests. His son, current England all-rounder  Stuart, was five months old at the time!

This time around England, who need  only to draw the series to retain the urn, are already within touching distance of emulating the 1987 squad after yesterday’s convincing win at the Adelaide Oval by an innings and 71 runs.

Incidentally this was England’s 100th all time test victory over Australia and the Aussies first defeat at home by an innings in 17 years.

There are still three tests to go but a win in Perth, in ten days time, would wrap it up for England.  

However it will have to be achieved without the services of Stuart Broad who suffered an abdominal muscle tear and will now return home.

Broad will be sorely missed, particularly on the fast Perth track, but his Notts teammate, off spinner Graham Swann, who took the bowling honours with a 5 wicket 2nd innings haul in Adelaide remains a key player for England.

Despite his extraordinary test record over the last two years, taking 5 wickets in an innings ten times in 26 tests, Swann has been consistently dismissed as ‘ordinary’ by Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting, yet at Adelaide he was once again undone by the England spinner.

Interestingly in 1987 England spinners, John Emburey and Phil Edmonds, played a pivotal role in securing the Ashes, taking thirty three series wickets between them.

Australia for so long dependent on their own ‘king of spin,’ and all time leading wicket taker, Shane Warne are missing him so much so that an online campaign is under way to reinstate the 41-year-old (who is currently working in the media) which rather smacks of desperation.

Without wishing to tempt providence, current form suggests the series is now England’s to lose rather than Australia’s win – how long since we have been able to say that?

England need to remain positive and go for the kill in Perth, rather than adopting a safety first approach that might offer the initiative back to the Aussies.

All will be revealed by the team selection for the 3rd  Test. Chris Tremlett  from Surrey, at six-foot seven an out-and-out fast bowler, would be the attacking choice as a replacement for the injured Broad while picking Yorkshire all-rounder Tim Bresnan, who has less pace but is a better batsman, would indicate a more defensive attitude.

Advertisements

Aliens at ‘eadingley!
July 23, 2010

It were right cold at ‘eadingley yesterday!

Beneath leaden skies and sheltering from a biting wind full of Yorkshire grit, a sparse crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle. It was a day for a flat cap, muffler and a thermos of piping hot cream of tomato soup.

The aliens clattered down the steps of the ufo that has alighted amidst the old north stand striking a discordant note that reverberates around this historic Leeds sporting venue. It carries the name, the Carnegie Pavilion!

The scene might have been from a Spielberg movie. It was not difficult to imagine little green men emerging from this equally green monstrosity, but instead it was the alien cricketers of Pakistan and Australia who had been condemned to play this second test, of a two match series, in some distant corner of England’s green and pleasant land.     

The local Asians and Australians have not responded in the numbers expected when Headingley was selected to stage this match. The occasional crescent and star twinkled against a fluttering green background but there were precious few men from down under sporting the gold and green.

Those Yorkshire members present had come largely out of curiosity and the opportunity to watch some international cricket, devoid of the emotional commitment involved when England play. Of course they were not averse to rooting for Pakistan, based on the anybody but the Aussies principle, and to offering captain Ricky Ponting the benefit of their combined wisdom and wit!

However, late in the day RP had the last laugh, well more a grim smile of determination really. His Australian team, although still behind in the game, had rallied from their catastrophic first day dismissal for 88 restricting Pakistan’s first innings lead to only 170, when it should have been much more, and by the end of play had all but eliminated the deficit for the loss of only two wickets.

On the way Ponting had survived a first ball appeal for lbw, that looked plumb to every one in the ground but umpire Rudi Koertzen, and made the most of this good fortune to register the top score to date, a determined 61 not out. Along the way, when on 40, he passed a significant personal milestone of 12,000 test match career runs which puts him 2nd in the all time list of scorers.

In recent years Ponting has often been subject to English boos and jeers when walking out to be bat (not cricket in my opinion) but thankfully the Yorkshire faithful gave him the tremendous ovation his achievement deserves.

It was a day of records in the cricketing world. Thousands of miles away in Galle, a wonderful cricket setting I once visited when holidaying in Sri Lanka and now thankfully restored following the tsunami of 2004, Muttiah Muralitheran, wizard of spin, claimed his 800th test wicket.

It was achieved in dramatic style, Muri in his last match before retiring from test cricket, taking the final Indian wicket to win the match for Sri Lanaka and end his career on a land mark figure which is unlikely ever to be surpassed.

Meanwhile, nearer to home, Stuart Broad bowled my team, Notts, to an emphatic victory over Warwickshire at Edgbaston. He finished with a career best 8-52 in what was a rare appearance for the county due to his central contract with England.

This result leaves Notts nicely poised to take the lead in the county championship race and they still have a game in hand on current leaders Yorkshire.

Nest Thursday Broad and, Notts team-mate, Graham Swann will be returning to England International duty in the First Test against Pakistan at their home ground, Trent Bridge. I hope to be there, weather permitting.

Now that is a ground with a proper pavilion!