Cricket

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Re: Cricket

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:01 pm

This is really, really bad. Sigh. So common when you want your team(s) to really win!
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Re: Cricket

Postby J D Dunsany » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:05 pm

And it's over. Unbelievable.

Still at least I get to share my pain with you lot. :)

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Re: Cricket

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:06 pm

I know we shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves but it is clear that a poor performance isn't enough to shake our batsmen back into form.

Strauss, Bell, Morgan and Pietersen need to be challenged more. Shame it is just a tour and we only have Bopara and bowlers to replace them for the last test. Next tour to Sri Lanka I'm tempted to drop a few. We did edge the past three days of the test but those four didn't really contribute massively to us edging it I can't say.
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Re: Cricket

Postby shadowhawk2008 » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:07 pm

J D Dunsany wrote:Still at least I get to share my pain with you lot. :)


True true.

Sigh. My hopes of Pakistan being humbled have been for naught.
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Re: Cricket

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:10 pm

I am still confused that Bopara whose record is best in the subcontinent against spin attacks was kept out of the squad after Dubai.
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Re: Cricket

Postby Athelassan » Sat Jan 28, 2012 5:07 pm

Hopefully Bopara will be brought in for Morgan for the final Test. Morgan has never convinced me at this level, he's done nothing here to change that opinion and his average is heading south for the summer. I certainly don't think Bopara can do any worse.

As for the rest, I'd resist the temptation to drop them. Bell was arguably the outstanding world batsman of last year, and let's not forget he's had a niggling injury here which ate into his practice time. Pietersen has always been inconsistent, but he is enormously talented and England have nobody else to take his place. Maybe if we had a world-class player of spin tonking county attacks to all corners, but we don't. Both will come good again. The rest of the batsmen have done enough on this tour so far to keep their place. There is an argument that since the series is lost there's no harm in trying new players, but I think that's a dangerous mentality. For the great teams of the past there were no dead rubbers; if England have any pretensions to join that pantheon they need to adopt the same attitude.

I think it would be dangerous to see these matches as anything other than good performances from a quality Pakistan team against an England team uncomfortable in these conditions and out of practice. Ironically, Sri Lanka will probably provide some respite: they are a truly awful team at the moment, in utter disarray, carried entirely by their two genuinely world-class players. But we still want to be sending out our best lineup against them - we don't want to be humiliated there. If we want to blood new batsmen, then, barring injuries, the time to do it is against the West Indies in the summer. It's too much of a liability to try it now.

Congratulations to Pakistan, though, they have been excellent. They're certainly the best team in Asia right now.

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Re: Cricket

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sat Jan 28, 2012 7:58 pm

It is a good Pakistan performance, they haven't lost a series since we thrashed them over here, but then they haven't played an "away" test series either, their strength is their spin attack which is England's weakness, in conditions less suited to spin they may struggle against us.

That said the performance was sub par, there are a few players who are carrying a run of distinctly average or poor form and I feel there has to be some stuff done to stop that. Part of me thinks that sending everyone to Sri Lanka who are poor would be good as they can get themselves in form in the subcontinent get some runs against a spin attack and be ready for India at the end of the year. Mostly however I think that it might be best to drop one or two names for Sri Lanka to expose some new blood to test match conditions in the subcontinent before November because you never know how injuries and form are going to go.

Part of me thinks dropping Strauss may be a good idea, he hasn't been in terrible nick but he hasn't scored a massive score in a while and doesn't really have the magic that KP has to totally be a game changer. Strauss has got by for a while on Cook and Trott around him tending to put on at 50-100 before one of them loses a wicket after he goes.

I still think Bell looks better when the pressure is off as his record of scoring big scores show. He's gotten better but he is never going to be offering any steel in our middle order, only the capability to turn good scores until very good scores really. Morgan doesn't really have the test mentality, to be fair today we could've done with him just hitting out in one day mode where he is fantastic but he just didn't seem to be there. KP is in a bad run of form and just when it seems he is over it he stumbles back in. He is capable of fantastic things so it is hard to put him out but something needs to happen to kick start him again.

The good thing is that India doesn't have as good a spin attack as Pakistan at the moment and England should still be good in English conditions because the players don't become bad players overnight.

I do think that three batting collapses in four innings suggests that having a bad result isn't enough to motivate some of our players into upping their games.
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Re: Cricket

Postby Athelassan » Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:45 pm

I don't think dropping Strauss is the answer at the moment. He's not had a great record of late, but he has been unlucky on occasion and has had a few starts. The other point is that he's usually sticking around for a few balls before being dismissed and doing his job of seeing off the worst of the new ball. But principally, I don't think we have a replacement opener waiting in the wings, and I think burdening Cook - probably our most reliable batsman - with the captaincy right now would be ill-advised. The rest of the batting lineup, when it fires (and it always has until this tour) is good enough and long enough to carry an underperforming opener.

Morgan needs to go, though. I think KP and Bell will do well later in the summer - both of them have good records against South Africa, and that's who we really need to beat. Fast bowlers in English conditions are bread and butter to these batsmen. Obviously we don't want to fall into the India trap of not worrying about overseas tours, but once the Pakistan tour is over South Africa are the only other team we're playing any time soon with even a half-decent bowling lineup.

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Re: Cricket

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sat Jan 28, 2012 8:54 pm

Bell and Pietersen should do OK for the home series, and Sri Lanka won't worry them any, but England are where they are because of their fielding and bowling predominantly. I can't help but feel that part of this is because when a bowler gets injured good bowlers take their place. On the Ashes we dropped an inform Finn for Tremlett and he went on to be great. There is competition for Bowling places, that doesn't exist in the batsmen, there is almost always 6 selected and lasting changes only take place due to retirements. Considering the state of Sri Lanka it may be a good opportunity to blood in some people, we can always bring the folk dropped back against the West Indies in May to fill their boots and prepare for South Africa.
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Re: Cricket

Postby Athelassan » Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:57 am

England have got where they are on the back of bowling, that is true, and that's as much down to strength in depth as anything. South Africa have Steyn and Morkel - and Tahir, potentially - but they are over-reliant on them. Australia are gradually rebuilding their bowling but are still some way off; India and Sri Lanka are dreadful; New Zealand are back to being average with the retirement of Bond and the decline of Vettori; West Indies have some talent but lack the application to deploy it consistently; Bangladesh and Zimbabwe - well, whatever. Only Pakistan appear to have the reserves of bowling talent that England have right now. In fact Pakistan have a nauseating production line of talent, and it's both fantastic and terrifying that they finally seem to be laying down some consistency, which is something they've lacked ever since the golden age of Pakistan cricket in the late 80s-early 90s.

However, just because England's bowling is the cornerstone of their success doesn't mean their batting is bad. If you look at the stats for England's batting from late 2010 to the start of this series they were head and shoulders, collectively, above everybody else. At the start of the series England had three players with averages above or pushing 50, and that was largely due to recent figures rather than long, successful careers. India's lineup is packed with superstars but they've been well below par for at least twelve months. South Africa look vulnerable through the middle - Smith, Kallis, Amla and de Villiers are quality but the rest are scratchy. Sangakarra and Jayawardene - with occasional support from Samaraweera - prop up Sri Lanka, but, on form, England bat better, and deeper, than anyone. Prior in particular is a real find: I was always suspicious of him after the 2007 India series when he was an embarrassment but these days he could pretty much make it in the team as a specialist batsman. Among regular, specialist wicketkeepers, he's number three on the all-time averages list (after the incomparable Flower and Gilchrist) and his strike rate is pretty much the same.

It's true though that we don't have the strength in depth in batting that we do in bowling, or at least it seems we don't, but the Lions and Under-19s tours are there to build confidence in younger batsmen before throwing them into the Test arena. Chucking youngish players into the Test team can work (Cook) or not (Morgan); if we have a consistent lineup then changing it isn't worth it. The old Australian mantra was that you pick the best team you have available, not a training team, and although they did fall off a cliff eventually, it was only after nearly twenty years of consistent excellence - England would do well to manage half that.

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Re: Cricket

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:32 am

I am probably asking too much of the team. I get that. However on the march to becoming the number one team in the world we have often made harder wok than we needed to or been requiring the depth and strength of our tail to help us limp through to par scores.

I understand where you are coming from but I've long felt that batsmen can get complacent avout their place. Under Fletcher and Vaughn it was the bowlers tat got dropped after a poor match or series, hardly ever the batsmen, uit is always rarely the batsmen. Sure the batsmen can suffer from two good balls or two mistakes and that is their innings gone so there is more to objectively judge with regards the bowlers.

The ODIs are good for youngsters true but then Cook is rubbish at ODIs and Morgan is great at them, ODIs don't teach the application and tenacity required for the longer format. I get why consistency is of import but it'd benice if we could get ahead in fostering a sense where you will lose your place if you don't perform well enough which just doesn't seem likely with KP especially but also Bell and to an even lesser extent Morgan. We may not have the talent pool to do that but we can't know for sure unless we start being more adventurous. Idnia's current troubles are indicative of what happens when you don't keep new blood being bled into the squad.
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Re: Cricket

Postby Athelassan » Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:16 pm

"Dhoni captained by a book that should be found and burnt."

From Cricinfo's review of the Australia-India series.

I think the Lions and U-19 games are mostly FC-equivalent, two-innings affairs, so they're a better indicator of possible Test success than ODIs. Part of the problem with Morgan was that he was only ever a 50/20 over player - his first-class record is mediocre. He seemed to have been picked on the basis of his ability to handle pressure rather than to play a long innings. It's one of the reasons I've preferred Bopara generally: he's not afraid to knuckle down and play first-class cricket to improve his Test potential rather than taking every opportunity to clear off and play IPL or whatever.

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Re: Cricket

Postby Jim Shady » Wed Feb 01, 2012 7:15 am

Top and bottom of this is we are poor on the sub continent and have very few players who can play spin. KP says he can but I don't believe anything that comes out of that mans mouth. He said the last warm up game wasn't a big enough arena for him to score runs, I mean, what a complete you know what. KP has to be dropped. His ego is running rampant now.

Unlucky Monty, he's doing a noble thing and saying he's too blame for the loss but drop catches happen. I was pleased with what Monty added to the team on the day.

We can improve but we need batsman who are aggressive, not too aggresive but so much that they can get our innings off to a decent start for spinners.
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Re: Cricket

Postby Athelassan » Wed Feb 01, 2012 3:08 pm

KP can play spin - he's scored runs off better spinners than Ajmal in the past. It probably helped that he spent much of his early career at a county with a certain S.Warne, Esq.* and thus had the opportunity to practise.

England are inconsistent on the subcontinent, but not consistently poor (consistently inconsistent?) The World Cup is remembered for various embarrassments but it's easy to forget that England chased down a mammoth total against the eventual champions in the group stages. Even in the first innings in Abu Dhabi England set a good score - above what was reckoned to be par in the conditions. The problem is that the team renders its occasional achievements meaningless through inconsistency. Breathtaking brilliance in one innings will be followed by jaw-dropping incompetence in the next.

Although KP has, in career terms, been a disappointment in light of what he once promised, I don't think he's to blame here, or at least not any more than almost anyone else. He's the brightest star of the team and thus attracts the most attention - but then he's an alpha male and feeds off that. If anything, I'd say his problem is self-doubt brought on by the carping of disgruntled analysts and fans (and poor coaching which has led to a major technical problem against spin). In his first few years, when he was even more brash and obnoxious than he is now, he carted the world's bowlers - who were of a higher calibre than they are now for the most part - to all corners. Losing the captaincy seems to have hurt him badly: I also get the impression that Swann has got up his nose a bit (Swann even acknowledged that in his autobiography, apparently).

What most great (or even really good) teams have had in common is that they've had big, bullying batsmen who take on the bowlers and score heavily and quickly. The sort of player that is feared coming to the crease and whose wicket is prized not for its difficulty to obtain, necessarily, but because of the damage they're capable of doing if not dispatched quickly. In the aftermath of Vaughan and Trescothick and with Strauss having got more conservative, KP is the only batsman in England's top order who meets the criteria: without him, they all look a bit mousy (Morgan was meant to supplement him in this role, I suspect, but now looks the most timid of the lot). I'm not saying he's undroppable, but dropping players of such talent almost always looks a mistake in retrospect no matter how annoying they were at the time. (See: David Gower)

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*Esq, still. Seriously. Give him an OBE, at the very least. Preferably a knighthood. (Unless he's already turned one down, but I doubt that.)
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Re: Cricket

Postby J D Dunsany » Tue Feb 07, 2012 7:52 am

Well, that was an embarrassing week or so.

Jonathan Agnew's comments just about sum it up for me. Time to give someone else a chance against Sri Lanka, methinks.

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Re: Cricket

Postby Athelassan » Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:27 pm

Well, Morgan needs to go - I've never really had much faith in him to become a proper Test batsman but was holding out some hope - he just doesn't have the temperament. He shouldn't even have played in Dubai, really. That was a good no-real-risk opportunity to try a new batsman. Bell... meh. He's been dismal here, but I can't overlook his form over the last 18 months or so. None of England's batsmen have really performed to expectations and I fear making a scapegoat out of Bell - who is still just about the best technical batsman England have.

KP is a dilemma. Normally I'd talk about dropping him for a series to let him regain some form, but batting against England seamers on a relatively flat Oval pitch isn't going to help him prepare for spin in the subcontinent. Last summer I would have suggested reverting to a 2005 batting order with Bell at 4 and KP at 5 - he prefers batting from there and scores more runs, and Bell was good/consistent enough to make (possibly more) runs at 4... but Bell's dip in form has scotched that one for the time being.

I still have faith in England's top five to come good with time. I think they'll be better against Sri Lanka. If they're not, then we need to make sure we have adequate backup on the tour, and not just Bopara (much as I like him). If we can afford to take a large tour party, James Hildreth, Rory Hamilton-Brown and James Taylor should be in the squad.

The bowling pack looks fine, especially if Bresnan is fit again (it felt like we missed him in the UAE, even though the seamers did fine without him).

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Re: Cricket

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Tue Feb 07, 2012 1:14 pm

Michael Vaughn on TMS was saying that the issue is that some of the batsmen will now have too much baggage against spin in Sub Continent conditions and thus can't be counted on to have the mental toughness to step up in adverse situations.

For all Bell has had a wonderful 18 months I've still not been sold on him as someone who can "save" an innings or dictate play and put pressure immediately on the opposition and dismantle bowling attacks. He's gotten better and more assured of himself for sure but it has taken him a long time to reach that far and he just can't pick the best spin bowlers. Sri Lanka are a pain really because they're a better batting unit than Pakistan has been but they haven't got the same bowling chops. If we keep Bell he may not do so badly against Sri Lanka but I wouldn't say that means that he'll cope against India who are slightly better again.

A fair few of the Lions did well in Sri Lanka just now, considering Strauss is getting on and has what 2-3 years left in all likelihood I'd be tempted to see Root come into the squad considering he's scored 100s in Sri Lanka already (admittedly against Sri Lanka A).

Bopara I'd like to see given a chance, he has played well in Subcontinent conditions before I seem to recall but considering he wasn't chosen for the last match I have to wonder what the point of him being in the squad is because someone in the setup doesn't rate/trust him enough and I don't think I've ever seen Strauss give him the ball to bowl (and whilst he isn't a true all rounder I'd have thought he'd be a better option than Trott or KP who have been given the ball ahead of him when they've been playing).
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Re: Cricket

Postby Athelassan » Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:06 pm

I wonder whether India *are* better. They're dire at the moment; obviously they'll perform better in home conditions, but even there they managed to contrive a tied draw with one of the worst West Indies sides in living memory. Sehwag is a liability; Gambhir looks increasingly like a paper tiger; Dravid is increasingly fragile; Tendulkar seems to have lost his nerve; Laxman is past it; Kohli is inexperienced; Dhoni has been revealed as the sort of bits and pieces player England used to specialise in, not to mention a poor captain; and as for the bowlers, oh dear. India should have the strength in depth to rebuild quickly, and they need to, but I don't think they will. The question is at what stage of the curve England catch them (assuming England put in their normal standard of performance and not the shocker we've seen here). India play (theoretically) nine Tests before we see them again; crucially, the first three of those are against Pakistan, and if India lose that series as they easily could, that'll fast-forward the rebuilding process.

The West Indies series should be an opportunity to blood new batsmen against what is normally a fairly mediocre team these days, but we'll need to be firing on all cylinders against South Africa. I was expecting more draws from this series, but really, England need to win all their matches between now and the end of the summer in order to retain the #1 ranking this calendar year (and hope that New Zealand do them a favour, and preferably that Australia fold against the Windies). I think losing the #1 ranking would be a bigger blow than it might seem (although I don't think it's likely that South Africa will take it before England play again). Psychologically it would have an effect on the players, and it might lead to some unwanted changes before the end of the year (or at the start of next year) which would be the last thing England need in the run-up to the Ashes.*

Ath

*Then again, the 2009 Ashes were a success despite a seemingly disastrous build-up, so who knows.
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Re: Cricket

Postby schaferwhat‽ » Wed Feb 08, 2012 12:32 am

I think their bowling attack is better than Sri Lanka's. Which is what poses the questions for our batting lineup. If anything we can have faith that our bowling attack has what it takes to be competitive wherever (even with injuries, I rate Onion as capable of being consistent on line and length and not giving too much away even if without it swinging he won't be taking masses of wickets). It is what our batters do when difficult questions are posed to them. Both Bell and KP I believe are now averaging less than 30 in subcontinent tests if you count the UAE as Subcontinent conditions. If they both play in Sri Lanka that'll go up, they'll likely not be as challenged by India as they were by Pakistan who have a fantastic bowling attack for those conditions (they're a decent fast bowler short really at the moment) but I do wonder if we can keep selecting them both on the grounds of them being our supposed best batsmen.
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Re: Cricket

Postby Jim Shady » Sat Feb 18, 2012 8:30 am

Peanut Head aka Herschelle Gibbs has signed up for Durham for the Twenty20 cup this year. SCORE! They're also doing a 10+ party for people on June 22nd and it being £10 per head.
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