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England batsmen fail again

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Ben Dirs | 19:12 UK time, Thursday, 20 August 2009

BBC Sport at The Oval

The consensus among the ex-pros was that The Oval groundsman had prepared a "workmanlike" pitch for this crucial fifth Ashes Test.

But while Australia's pacemen were happy to be packhorses on day one, too many of England's batsmen were delicate racehorses, cantering a few yards before pulling up lame. Again.

It has been one of the prominent themes of the series, illustrated perfectly by the fact Australia have scored seven tons to England's one, and embodied by Ian Bell, he of the glossy coat but skittish constitution.

Ian Bell was out for 72

Bell has now notched eight fifties against Australia without making a century. He has also failed to reach a hundred in 32 innings batting at three.

This time he looked like he'd cracked it. He'd looked far from convincing in seeing off a fiery spell from Peter Siddle, and was very nearly gone without scoring, a bumper from the snarling Victorian just missing the wristband of his glove.

Bell having slipped Siddle's clutches, Ricky Ponting then set a rabid Mitchell Johnson on his tail. And despite some hairy moments, Bell gutsed it out and emerged from his hole unscathed.

One stroke, a 'persuader' of a cover-drive off the bowling of Ben Hilfenhaus, was glorious. An airy waft moments later, shortly before lunch, had you asking which stroke should be considered 'classic' Bell.

Then, having done the hard work, he fell to his first ball faced after tea, playing onto his stumps. Bat crooked, dangling away from his body, that was 'classic' Bell.

It is probably unfair to single out Bell - he did, after all, top-score with 72 - it's just that the Warwickshire man's England career conveniently encapsulates England's troubles. Get in, look comfortable, get out. But some of his team-mates were far more culpable.

After a first session in which England scored 108 runs, the ball racing over the outfield at regular intervals so that you wondered whether groundsman Bill Gordon had concocted a grass with a gossamer weave, a par score looked upwards of 450.

There was nothing that happened in the ensuing five and a half hours to make you change your mind. It was just that England, the recidivists of world cricket, kept frittering away wickets.

Captain Andrew Strauss, who up until his dismissal had been giving an object lesson in leaving outside off-stump, nibbled when he didn't have to. Paul Collingwood, who is so badly out of form his left arm is almost superfluous, wafted and missed, wafted and missed, before finally wafting and nicking.

Collingwood made just 24

Matt Prior, as Matt Prior does, flashed and dashed before playing one shot too many, before Andrew Flintoff, eyeing a Hollywood plot in his final Test, fell cheaply to a stroke that would have embarrassed a blacksmith.

Jonathan Trott, in contrast, looked compact and solid, and only a sensational piece of fielding from Simon Katich at short-leg prevented the South African-born batsman from making a fifty on debut.

Siddle bowled at a decent lick, Johnson, in his first spell at least, was nasty. But mainly Australia's pacemen did little more than stick the ball on a line and length. They know by now they don't have to do much else.

But while it was Australia's day - surely eight wickets was beyond Ponting's wildest dreams - England still have a chance of winning the Test match and regaining the Ashes.

The hosts have won five of the last 10 Tests at The Oval, so the common belief that the ground fails to deliver results, in Test match cricket at least, is something of a myth.

In addition, the footmarks that had appeared after merely an hour's play had Phil Tufnell in the TMS commentary box clucking with glee. England off-spinner Graeme Swann should be similarly encouraged.

In 1997, Tufnell's spin helped England to an unlikely 19-run victory at The Oval, taking 11 wickets in the match and 4-27 in Australia's second innings as the tourists were dismissed for 104.

Having seen part-time tweaker Marcus North extract plenty of turn on a first-day pitch, Ponting may be regretting not picking his front-line spinner Nathan Hauritz.

So while Strauss will concede that the first day of battle was lost, he also knows he has a weapon in Swann who could do untold damage as the battle wears on. But, oh, for a few more runs...


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  • Comment number 1.

    Austalia post 600, and beat England by an innings..again.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good summary Ben

    Would like to see Rudolph in for Cook, and eagerly look forward to Trott and KP batting together.

    Onions and Anderson as first choice seamer/quicks of the future, and the England team may be a tougher nut to crack.

    Srauss, Rudolph, Bell, KP, Trott, Prior, Swann, is a good batting line-up for the SA tour.

    The future looks brighter than many would believe.

  • Comment number 3.

    Ben, great to see they're now letting you write the big long articles now too as well as the live text - if I may say so you are already a master of the "short-form" scribing game and now you have a chance to prove your mettle over the long haul stuff! Hope not to make you blush too too much but I think of you as "the Dilshan of live text" with your own individualistic innovative style and flashes of pure brilliance which catch the eye and make people sit up and take notice.

    Anyhow, our batting was a bit sub-par today but the great thing is we are not out of the game yet, unlike the debacle of Headingley. And I think Bell and Trott who are under enormous pressure will be a little disappointed not to go on and get big scores but actually after today they will have some self-belief that they can get some good runs against this attack in the second innings, there is not too much to fear - except getting your head knocked off occasionally of course but that comes with the territory.

    I fancy Broad to get 70-odd tomorrow with some fine cameos in support from Harmy and Jimmy, so we should top out 350 easily.

    Then I fancy Freddie and Harmy to open the bowling with a spell of such ferociously sustained hostility that Punter's mob can hardly believe what has hit them - they'll be four down for fifty odd I'll wager and we'll be right in the game for the rest of the match.

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 4.


    England make 350 and the Aussies are out for 280. England get 400 in their second innings and bowl Australian out for 300 to win the Ashes.

  • Comment number 5.

    Another frustrating day im afraid. Shame you focus on Bell's shortcomings though Dirs. Usually i find your dry wit and humour amusing but thought you may give Bell some credit at least. I find him as frustrating as the next man and he wouldn't have been in my side but credit where credits due. He came in under enormous pressure this morning. I would have put money on him making no more than 10 and 'bottling it'. Il take my hat off too him though, he battled today and stood up in the face of some hostile short-pitched stuff. How we bowl tomorrow will decide the fate of the urn...

  • Comment number 6.

    David leigh - Rudolph would struggle to play for england as he is South African and playing for Yorkshire on a Kolpak contract and anyway stephen moore or joe denly are the next in line for the openers spot.

  • Comment number 7.

    They haven't 'failed again' at all. 350 is still enough to win the test match - as the old saying goes, you can't win a test on the first day but you can lose it, and England are still doing ok on a pitch that will turn very nicely for Swann.

    Stop being so negative.

  • Comment number 8.

    The acid test of whether England's performance is good or bad will be after Australia has batted. Its all very interesting trying to compare it to the pitch, to previous teams, to people not in the team, to goodness knows what but the only thing that matters and the only thing it needs comparing against is the Australian score. Skittle them for 110 and suddenly no one but no one will be discussing the downside of England's batting. Let's all wait and see.

  • Comment number 9.

    due to 5 hour time difference i didn't see bell and collingwood together but following the ball-by-ball text it seemed like they completely went into their shells and surrendered the initiative to the aussie bowlers. very inconsistent approach to our batting today -- no rythm. our bowlers will need a lot more discipline to give us any chance of making aussies bat again.

  • Comment number 10.

    Hello Darthy

    I know Rudolph is SA but doesn't he qualify for residency pretty soon? Stephen Moore is also South African and moved here to study at Exeter University.

    Interesting point about Denly and Moore being 'next-in-line'. Do the selectors follow such a policy?

  • Comment number 11.

    Good to see our media backing the lads as always.

  • Comment number 12.

    “I’m not getting on Bell’s back” – of course you are you hypocrite.
    If it wasn’t for Bell’s knock today, the Ashes would probably have already been lost. You hold him up as the main culprit and made him your whipping boy, rather than saying well done. You know Bell is an easy target on these pages and it was an easy way out to attack him in a cowardly and hypocritical article. I’ll now probably get a torrent of abuse because Bell is so unpopular, but credit where credit is due – the guy stood up to be counted today when it mattered most. Bell did the biz today and it was a really gutsy knock under extreme pressure, yet you choose to damn rather than praise, which is so easy and beneath you.

  • Comment number 13.

    There has never been a more transparent test of talent, courage and true grit than this 5th test at the Oval. This is it! Does England have any 'ticker'?

  • Comment number 14.

    I think the main point of the article is that throughout the series and even further back from that, english batsmen get in then get out. Bell has been doing it for ages, not just today. The fact he top scored is irrelevant. Who top scored at headingley? Only one hundred in a series from all batsmen is all kinds of wrong, and 72 isnt enough.

    For me the top order is too full of average batsmen who can do a job, but in the top 6 how many will get a big hundred. And for australia? I hope they dont win it, but they probably deserve this series

  • Comment number 15.


    I have to agree with you on the Bell issue. The bottom line is that Ian Bell scored 72 very valuable runs today against trying bowling. He should be congratulated and encouraged!

    I wish this fan culture of tarring scapegoats will give way to positive encouragement.

    Unfortunately, some players will always be ostracized by the cynics.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think Mr Dirs's point is that it wasn't the Australian bowlers who got England out, it was England committing Hari Kari.

    Remains to be seen what the pitch will do, but I guarantee we will have to earn every Aussie wicket we take.

  • Comment number 17.

    kenadams777 - The point I'm making is that Bell's England career rather sums everything up, this English inability to 'convert'. I do, however, say most of his team-mates were more culpable.

    rhombushead - That's the danger of putting the positive stuff at the bottom, sometimes people choose not to read that far! Exactly as I said, Swann could be the man to win it for England. And I would disagree, England's batsmen did fail again as a unit, in that almost all of them fell playing poor shots - Cook, Strauss, Bell, Collingwood, Prior, Fintoff - and they lost six wickets for 130-odd runs on a good batting pitch.

    trebell - What do you want the media to say: "Great day for England"? It's a Test we must win to regain the Ashes, we made a great start, and we surrendered the advantage. They're the facts.

    greenmarkfo - Sorry if you feel I was too hard on Bell.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hello Ben

    England are playing one of the top two test nations in the world (ranked top) and have 300 on the board with a few wickets in hand. They are not 102 all out, and are still very much in this game. Remember they have the runs and Australia still have to get them.

    No, 'Great day for England' would be a stretch, but perhaps 'England cope well on unusual Oval track' would be more constructive.

    Ben, the over-critical nature of the media (not all media) has to be tempered if the attitude of the fans and the confidence of the players is to improve.

    No one disputes the facts, just the manner in which they are portrayed.

  • Comment number 19.

    “greenmarkfo - Sorry if you feel I was too hard on Bell.”

    Hi Ben – normally I like your work and actually agree with most of the points you made, I just thought that today was a really inappropriate occasion to have a pop at Ian Bell.

    The guy has been under enormous pressure and stood up to be counted today when it mattered most and he was out first ball after tea, which is a vulnerable time for any batsman, no matter how well he is set.

    I apologise for calling you hypocritical, but stand by everything else I said. It’s harder than most people realise to convert a 50 into a ton, Andrew Strauss is one of the few batsmen who does it well and even he struggled after lunch on a pitch that got more and more difficult as the day went on.

  • Comment number 20.

    Hats off to Ian Bell today. It's no wonder our batting's all over the place when no one's sure if they're going to be playing at 5 one day and 3 the next! But for all of the scathing questioning of his temperament and character from all corners of the media in the past week good for him that he top scored. Trott did very well too and looked in good nick until Katich's spot of super fielding. But if we can wend our way to 350 I don't think that we're out of this at all. Broad, in spite of his bowling economy, has been rather good with the bat, and if Jimmy A and Harmy can stick around for a bit, perhaps we can frustrate the Aussie bowlers a little bit more tomorrow morning.

    I am a little bit worried about Colly though. His stubborn style seems to have shifted somewhat. A few months ago he would never have been caught sniffing around with the bat that far outside of off. He's not been his usual stocky self at the crease this series, and whereas before he always seemed like a good anchor for the more flashy players like Pietersen, Prior and Flintoff, now I'm not so sure.

  • Comment number 21.

    I just want to say - WELL PLAYED ENGLAND.

    It could of been a whole lot better, however it's game on for the Ashes if we bowl well. We can only win by getting 20 wickets, so lets go and get 6 on Friday, which leaves us 14 for the other 3 days. We're English, we don't win easy, so if it goes to Monday, then so be it.

    Also, well played Ian Bell. It took some character to get through this mornings session, but you did good.

    Come on Swanny, Freddy, Harmy, Jimmy, and for some odd reason, I think Broad could bounce a few out.

  • Comment number 22.

    alogside mike atherton's deconstruction of the freddie 'legend', this article seems to point at the fact that england still havent confronted the truths of their shortcomings. i do feel andy flower is the man to help us get there, though we scarcely deserve to win this series. both teams seem to be confounded by the fact that they cant beat such unspectacular opposition...

  • Comment number 23.

    david leigh wrote: Srauss, Rudolph, Bell, KP, Trott, Prior, Swann, is a good batting line-up for the SA tour

    you do realise we are called "england" and not "south africa wanderers"?

    re: bell, i really thought he had cracked it this time, but again he fell short. when is he going to get big runs when it really matters?

  • Comment number 24.

    Ben wrote: "What do you want the media to say: "Great day for England"? It's a Test we must win to regain the Ashes, we made a great start, and we surrendered the advantage. They're the facts."

    Ben, no matter what some of these people say, I agree with you completely. England have thrown away a good position, it has been a poor day. We won the toss and haven't taken home any kind of advantage. For England to hold a first innings lead, we either need to bowl very well or have the Aussies bat very poorly (more likely a combination of both). If we'd of got a big first innings score we'd of had runs to play with, where as now, if they get an early partnership going and play positive, they'll soon knock off our score.

    Why are all you people saying he has been over critical of Bell. His job is to write an article that is slightly more interesting than a list of statistics of who did what. He was merely using Bell as an example of showing an interesting failure in the England batting department. Yes Bell played slightly better today (although he rarely looked comfertable and should have probably been out for 0 with that one that looked to hit the glove roll), however, he got out playing a defensive prod at one that didn't even swing or move much and just completely mistimed it. It was a stereotypical unconvincing bell-type shot. OK so he got 72, but as Ben said, he so rarely goes on to get the big one. AN to the fact he has got 72 runs, well it's about time! He was so poor the last 2 games (yes he was out 3 times in that 50 at Edgbaston).

    The problem with Bell is that he takes the momentum out of the side, asoon as Strauss got out (who was carrying Bell along), Bell and Colly got paired and they went into their shell and the runs just stopped. This created unessecary pressure and thus was the catalyst of our demise. So I do not care if Bell got 72, he contributes a negative feeling to the side, we need more positive people in there like Trott, Pieterson, Flintoff, Swann, etc.

    For me having Cook, Bell and Colly 1 after another, them being our three most defensive batsmen, we just have a real problem there. Trott should have atleast been at 4, to split Colly and Bell. The thing is with a bowler like Johnson, he goes alot on momentum and confidence. Before Bell came into the side Johnson was likely to be dropped. Bell comes in and looks timid as usual and gets this psychological thing with him (either that or he is just incapable of playing him and therefore should not be in the side). By getting that, he has allowed Johnson to come back to form and therefore brought even more problems to Englands camp. Bell seriously needs to score a fair few big scores to get in anyones good books in my opinion.

    To remind all you naive and troubled Bell fans of his stats in his last 16 innings before this match. 14 of them he scored below 28 runs and 7 of those he scored below 8 runs, with his two highest scores being 50 and 53. How is this guy picked? *cough* conspiracy.

  • Comment number 25.

    I feel this article is spot on. He does give Bell credit, when he says that Bell 'gutsed it out'. But the fact that he failed to make a hundred is an ongoing problem. If it had been Michael Clarke or Ricky Ponting there, we would have been expecting a hundred. Can anyone honestly say they were expecting Bell to make three figures, hoping is probably more accurate. Bell is a very talented player, but he needed to do more today. Having got so well set, he should have been putting the pressure on the opposition.

    It leaves everyone hoping that the pitch deteriorates, because England don't have the bowling attack to hurt Australia otherwise. As Ben states, none of the English wickets fell because the pitch did something terrible, so England have underperformed today. His job is to report, not to cheerlead, therefore the article is perfectly reasonable.

  • Comment number 26.

    You are of course right, I should have read to the end of the article.

    It's just the title of the article that provokes a reaction in me. It's after day one and the title is "England batsmen fail again"

    If it was like the old big C days then yes, I would agree, but not going on to make 100s after making a 50 is not 'failing' in my opinion, it's just not good enough, but not a fail.

  • Comment number 27.

    Cry God for Harry, England and St George!

    Pull yourselves together and stop this nonsense. It may not be war, but offering any encouragement to the Aussies is treacherous in my book.

    We have 300. Let's get some more and make sure it's enough. Fred, Jimmy, Harmy and Swanny can do no end of damage. Get behind them !

    Well done Ian Bell, Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott. Let's have even more next time round.

  • Comment number 28.

    If you can't see Ben's point that a good start is not enough, someone needs to go on and get a big hundred, not just a good start, then as a cricket nation England is going to struggle to consistantly win matches. It is acceptable to put pressure on very highly paid sportsman to perform at the very top of their field on a regular basis, if they can't deliver then the team needs to keep turning players over to ensure evetually they do select players that have the will and temperament to deliver an excellent result when they are needed

  • Comment number 29.

    DavidLeigh - "Ben, the over-critical nature of the media (not all media) has to be tempered if the attitude of the fans and the confidence of the players is to improve." I have to respectfully disagree. I am sometimes described as a 'miserablist' when it comes to English cricket, in that my outlook sometimes seems overly-negative to some. But it is my opinion that it is the miserablists who often have the best interests of English cricket closer to their hearts. To paraphrase, England haven't produced a great cricket side since the 1960s. Something's up, and pretending everything's great doesn't really help everybody.

    greenmarkfo - No need to apologise, nothing wrong with a bit of robust debate!

    rhombushead - Have to disagree again. England won the toss and needed to get a big total on the board. They didn't, which means they failed to do what they det out to do.

  • Comment number 30.

    bell will never be quite good enough(dejvu to hick?!) but i have found myself absoloutly begging for him to do well because if nothing else i like the guy, he does deserve a awful lot of credit for an extremely gutsy innings hes never shown himself capable of making before. Collingwood playing is bordering on embarassing at this point and flintoff and broad really should be the other way round in the lineup as flintoff is not much on batting and broad always seems to be left without enough partners. Thoughts? Great article btw

  • Comment number 31.

    Hello tranquility

    Your entire post is negative. There are 5 positive words in your long post: 'OK so he got 72'. Can you find more positives in today's display?

    And hello snelly:

    Yes, I do realise what you say but I see it differently. If those players qualify legitimately to play for England and are picked on merit, then it's good enough for me.

  • Comment number 32.

    A great toss for England to win but they missed a golden opportunity after a good first session. If we can dismis England for less than 350 and bat for two days the ashes will surely stay in our hands. The game is still in the balance though. The way the pitch is already breaking up, batting a full day on day 5 or scoring more than 150 could be difficult.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hello again Ben

    Yes, I do respect your opinion and the different paradigm which you employ. It is interesting to read about your 'miserablist' thoughts.

    Something is up, but are we not 'killing the messenger' here? Do the problems perhaps not extend far beyond the players?

    I find an overkill of the 'soft targets' does not further the progress in resolving the real and more daunting problems in English cricket.

  • Comment number 34.

    DavidLeigh, most of my post was not about todays play but about fundamental problems in our side, most notably the inclusion of Ian Bell. I do o

  • Comment number 35.

    - oops pressed post by accident, carrying on...

    I do not care if he got 72 today particulary, the England side would be better without him. Yes he seems like a nice guy in person and he does have talent. But I've been hearing this thing about how he has talent and never meets his potential for years now, anyone would think he's in his early 20's and in his first few tests. He has had some OKish patches for England but his stats arnt great and if you look at his stats in more detail he has many weaknesses and most of his good scores are not against great opposition. Like I said in my previous post, you just need to look at his scores in the last 16 innings he's played for England before this match and anyone in there right mind should not be picking him right now for England, especially against his nemesis, the aussies, who he has never mastered and has looked uncomfertable YET again this series.

    The point I was making before was that it isn't just his regular failures with the bat in such important positions that warrent him being removed from the side, but also the fact that he doesn't bring much positivity and more often than not can take the momentum away from us.

    My post may have also sounded negative because I feel quite negative about English cricket at the moment, mainly due to the fact that we have a bunch of selectors who have picked the wrong side for us for far too long and even when they get something that is so obviously a good or bad choice, they don't have the bottle to make the right decisions. Or indeed they have to much pride to be able to admit at times they were wrong and pick someone they wrote off -- RAMPRAKASH. I don't even know why this guy has not been in the England side for the past couple of years, everyone criticises him and says he wasn't up to it, but that was about 7 years ago! SO surely a batsman can mature and develop? The next one they say is, oh all his runs are in county, that means nothing. YET all BELL needed to do, after being diabolical for England, was score a few scores back at county and then a few months later, suddenly everything is forgotten and he is repicked. WHY can players like Ramprakash not have such a chance? I mean another guy that should be in this side is Vaughan, if the selectors would have had anything about them, they would of kept Vaughan involved, even if just for the Ashes, he couldn't have done much worse than Bopara? and having him on the pitch, with his knowledge and the aura about him, would alone be worth his place. The list goes on, they all fell out with KP, because he wasn't a "yes man", he liked doing things his own way. I've heard alot of people think that there was a conspiracy going on when they picked Patinson last year when the captain didn't want him and that only helped to lead to Vaughans demise. Strauss has been brilliant with the bat since turning captain, but he isn't half the captain Vaughan or KP were. KP wouldn't have jokers like Bell in the side, he has way more disipline than strauss and he would have taken this whole 'hunky-dorey', family like atmosphere out the team and let the best players play. He was contraversial but exactly what England needed.

    MY point is that something dodgy is always going on at the top that places a dull cloud over English cricket and it is starting to put me off even watching it, when it is a sport I love. This is not just an opinion I have, but that I share with so many ive spoken to.

  • Comment number 36.

    Tranquility your post is a joke and just a personal dig at Ian Bell.

    Did you actually watch the match today? The bowlers marks had to be filled during lunch, which is literally unheard of on the first day, the top of the pitch is breaking up and it was overcast all day. It visibly became harder to bat as the day wore on, which is reflected in the score. Your comment that Strauss carried him along is crass and ludicrous. Collingwood never looked comfortable, and yet you blame Bell for the slow run rate and the batting order. With Collingwood struggling, what did you expect Bell to do, go all out for it and give his wicket away in conditions that were visibly worsening as the day went on.

    You blame him for batting circumspectly, yet when he was told by the so called experts to go out and dominate bowlers a few years ago, he was crucified for getting out to loose shots once set. You are just so typical of so many people on the forums who will never be satisfied whatever the guy does. He was out first ball after the tea break, a fate that has befallen just about every batting great in history. This is not a typical Oval pitch and if England bowl well I can see this being quite a low scoring game. Bell’s innings could turn out to be a match winning one, but no doubt you will still find every ground possible to criticise him, even if he does really well in the 2nd innings.

  • Comment number 37.

    David, your idea that England would play better with some help from a positive public is probably true to some extent. But that is something of a 'chicken and egg' situation. If a team is winning the public will be positive. England's mixed results will lead to a mixed response. I would point out to you that there was an overwhelmingly positive feeling about the England team after that 2005 series, but they lost their next series in pakistan, so I don't think England's problems stem particularly from a negative mindset (at least not on the part of the public).

  • Comment number 38.

    Another thing I don't get with some of these cricketers is that even when they so clearly are not up for it and fail so many times, like Bell has over the last year or two, for me if they actually cared about their country and the national cricket team, then they would themselves admit they wern't up for it. Being a loyal England supporter, if I got told I could play for England, I'd tell them no, because I wouldn't want to let the side down. I sometimes think that some of these players should not be so selfish and realise that even if our selectors seem to have about 3 brain cells between them, that they could do the right thing and pull themselves out. There are so many batsmen in county that are just AVERAGE players and im sure they would have no problem outscoring Bell. This aussie bowling line up is SO AVERAGE. If you compare it to 2005, the 2005 aussie team would be making mince meat of us.

  • Comment number 39.

    So you asked me for positives to bring out of today?

    1. Strauss looked good - no change there

    2. Bell got past 10 - thats hardly a positive, he shouldn't be in the side and therefore by him scoring somewhat false runs, he will now have about another 10 lives of being able to under-perform, before he will need to score another average innings.

    3. Trott looked good and was unlucky to get runout - YES this is actually a worthy positive, something new has been found.

    4. We reached 300? - I'm being facetious, we have 8 wickets down and should have been aiming for atleast 400. Also by the fact that we need to win this game, is the scoring rate not a little slow? Do you remember 2005, we used to score at 4.5 an over on the first day and finish up on 420, 300 in a day is slow going and is only acceptable if you have maybe 3-4 wickets down, NOT 8!

    5. Broad gets some useful runs again and proves he should probably replace most our frontline batsmen on form - again we already knew this.

    6. Something in the wicket? - uhmm again, I think that is being over-hyped, we just got ourselves out as usual.

  • Comment number 40.

    greenmarkfo - If bell went on a good run and proved his doubters wrong then I would have to eat humble pie, but even if that happened I don't think I should have to. THE POINT IS, is that if he was scoring runs on a regular basis then no one would be on his back. DID YOU NOT SEE MY STATS ON HIS PREVIOUS 16 INNINGS. THAT IS WHY PEOPLE ARE ANNOYED THAT HE IS BEING PICKED. ALSO BECAUSE OF HIS AVERAGE AGAINST THE AUSSIES. ALSO BECAUSE HE FILLS NOBODY WITH CONFIDENCE, IVE NEVER HEARD A COMMENTATOR SAY BELL IS INSPIRED WITH CONFIDENCE.

    He should have been out today for 0, did you not see the appeal, it definetely brushed his glove roll on his wrist. OK he got some runs, OMG LIKE WOW, I imagine if you put any guy who bats in county cricket in the England side and give them 17 Innings, they'd score 3 50's. That is his recent record and therefore the form that should be looked at. Just because he has got 72, does not mean that I am happy he is in the side, I actually care more about Englands long term future and would rather him fail and be out for good, because it's pretty irrelevent as to how he does, REMEMBER 2005? we won the ashes with Bell in the side and he was diabolical all series. I don't know how he even had the nerve to stand up and celebrate with the rest of them. Complete joke.

  • Comment number 41.

    Sorry Tranquility but that is one of the dumbest things i have ever heard. The selectors pick the team and if you have done enough to earn selection then you go out and wear the three lions with pride. Please imagine the stick a player would receive should he turn down the call saying he is not good enough, he's a bottler etc. etc. These guys have been stryving all their lives for the England call.

    Disappointing though it was that Bell didnt make his ton today he did us proud. When Colly scores a very scratchy 70 odd people praise his battling qualities yet when Bell does the same (with the pressure ON both in regards to the match and his place in the side) he gets panned. I don't know what people are looking for, not even Ponting scores a 100 every innings.

    As was said above, without Bell's contribution today the Ashes would already be gone for another two years.

  • Comment number 42.

    Well now, 3 or 4 more Saffer batsmen and England may be competitive again! We'll ship you a few more if it helps you stick it to the Aussies ;-).

    As an earlier poster mentioned, the acid test will be when Australia bats. England have been a bit tame, but the pitch is looking pretty lively so we'll have to see tomorrow how it behaves.

  • Comment number 43.

    Positivity isn't your strong point is it?

    Bell weathered the storm by doing exactly what he should have been doing and top-scored in the process. Runs are runs, a "somewhat false run" is still a run, regardless of your personal opinion of it's artistic merit or political correctness.

    Trott had a good debut and stands every chance of going on to make an England position his own (though if Bell or Colly had got out that way, they would have been sorely castigated)

    We've probably fallen short on our total but the Aussie over rate affected that not only because slower overs mean less opportunity for the batsmen to work up any sort of rythm but also fewer overs means fewer balls to score from.

    Broad is an all-rounder and should not have pressure put on his batting. England's batting problems should be solved by introducing better quality batsmen at the top of the order, not by moving a bowler up the order because he's handy with a bat. Broad's bowling form has taken a dip so he doesn't need to make things worse by having more pressure put on his batting.

    The wicket was getting harder and harder to play near the end of the day. Our strength is our bowling attack which is verifiably better than theirs. We CAN use this wicket to our advantage.

  • Comment number 44.

    I know a lot of you England fans don't care much for Bell, and to be honest he's not exactly a batsman other sides fear... but today's not really the day to be knocking him, is it? He's top-scored so far and had, I thought, a pretty decent innings.

  • Comment number 45.

    I do agree that our strength is our bowling attack. We have one of the best attacks in the world. Anderson, Flintoff and Swann are brilliant. Broad is ever-growing. I do however feel the last place should have gone to sidebottom or onions, Harmy is too much of a gamble and again another negative old sole. If things don't go his way he sulks in the outfield, ive seen it in person! Harmy may produce one good spell in 10, but atleast sidebottom is consistently a good bowler, even if he just keeps the runs down and got 1 or 2 in this match.

    I just don't like the look of our side with the likes of bell or bopara in it (bopara maybe coming back in the future at 5, but not now). Imagine if this was our lineup.


    WE WOULD be so strong. Ok, pieterson is injured, but I saw him in the England stands today and just thought how much better the england line up would be with him in it and how we'd trounce the aussies if he replaced bell or colly. Then RAMPS could have very easily been picked for this test, or indeed any test over the past couple of years, but no, theres clearly some political rubbish going on there cause the selectors won't pick him even though hes been the best batsman for 3 years on the trott. Then Treso, he sounded like he would play this one off test match if they actually had the bottle to select him, but oh no, that'd be too much of a hard thing for our selectors to do. THE only thing they ever do to cause a stirr is pick complete idiots, like Patinson.

  • Comment number 46.

    The match has always been about the bowlers and the first two sessions in the Australian Innings, not really about our batters whether first in or second...unless we were going to see a 350-for not many first day and 650 first innings.

    The Australians have one real failure, the just over 200 in the 2nd test apart from that and one other innings the others have been 400 plus so far and big 400 plus as well....

    The beauty of the game is that the stats don't lie but they can (sometimes ) be overcome--- unless the last 2 wickets put on another 100 it'll be down to the bowlers to blow them away --- which can happen.

    But if we don't over power them in a rush I don't see our attack just boring away like theirs did chiselling wickets, nor their batsman chucking it away like some of ours.

  • Comment number 47.

    I have already made my point above no. 41, but reading on I truly can't believe the stick Bell is getting today. Admitdedly he has flattered to deceive in the past but today? Honestly guys were you watching the play? The pitch is falling apart and his knock could yet prove crucial.

  • Comment number 48.

    This is a big improvement on Headingly, and I expect Broad & Harmison to get us close to 400 tomorrow morning. I think our bowlers will be encouraged by the pitch and fancy their chances to bowl Australia out for 300.Strauss should not be reluctant to call upon Collingwood´s medium pacers if the others make slow inroads into the Australian batting.
    Good start to Trott´s career,Ian Bell´s & Siddle´s lucky day, excellent fielding from Australia.
    Odd that Australia chose to leave out proven match winner Brett Lee who is feared by the english,& would have been able to blast England out cheaply today had he been selected.IF Australia doesnt win the Ashes,it will be largely down to the fact that Lee didnt play the last 2 Tests. IF England does win the Ashes with only 1 century so far in the series, it will be a most welcome surprise.
    The game after day one is still evenly balanced,Australia have held their catches although England have batted carelessly with much more luck than in the last test

  • Comment number 49.

    "There was nothing that happened in the ensuing five and a half hours to make you change your mind."

    Not what Sky's commentators were saying. They revised their estimates for a par score downwards all day and IIRC are now saying 350 would be a good score.

    Look at two things:
    1) There is already variable bounce and turn with balls going "through the top" on a first day track

    2) Large footholes are being created even on the first day - and outside the off-stump of both right and left handers thanks to Mitchell Johnson.

  • Comment number 50.

    You pommies certainly are dreaming if you think 350 is going to be enough on this pitch.Reminds alot of fans down under of the adelaide oval,where we regularly score 500+ most times we bat.You had a chance but as i predicted when you collapsed like a pack of spineless cards that you are.Do u honestly think the aussies are going to let you of the hook on this pitch,PLEASE...see you in four years.

  • Comment number 51.

    regarding mick gattings comment about brett lee,your spot on,we saw what siddle done to you,imagine binger at the other end,glad really because we probably would have had another two and a half day test match,by the way when was the last time england beat us in two and a half days?lol

  • Comment number 52.

    As for 43 comment that your bowling attack is better than ours,what series have u been watching?

  • Comment number 53.

    Why is everyone so negative? I'll bet most of you would have taken 307 for the day before the match started. In spite of the usual pre-match bull, Ponting is playing for the draw - an abysmal overrate and clever, if very negative, bowling and field placings. It's time the umpires made sides get on with bowling, at one time it was less than 13 overs an hour with a spinner!

    The positives? Bell, after a torrid start, played with courage and intelligence. Strauss - good as ever and won the toss, the middle-order suddenly looks a bit more likely with Bopara rested. Broad seems to have found aggression, confidence, humour, and sense from somewhere, and is turning into much more than yet another County all-rounder. England getting out quickly whilst posting a par score could be an advantage. This is a result wicket, and only England have to get one. Fred failed with the bat, but has to make his mark in his last Test - much easier with the ball. Harmison, Flintoff, Anderson, and Broad - four fast, tall, aggressive bowlers manipulating uneven bounce, some swing and a hard wicket that is breaking up. Then there's the secret weapon - Swann. He ripped out their middle order once, on a much less helpful surface at Lords. My money's on England!

  • Comment number 54.

    I can't believe anyone would think that par on that pitch is 350. 420 absolute par, I'd imagine a decent batting line-up should be declaring at about 6-570 on it. Unless England's final two can do some serious wagging, it's going to be up to Flintoff and Harmison I think to bowl them to victory (Siddle showed that hitting the pitch hard on a good length is about the only way to extract any sideways movement at all). Ponting, Clarke etc will be drooling at getting out there on this deck at the moment - and if the pitch doesn't fall in a heap in the next two days, expect the Australians to post 500+ which will make 5th day batting a non-issue for them.

    Look at the shots that got people out in the final two sessions and it will tell you a lot about why 8 wickets went down - Strauss hung his bat out, Collingwood flashed wide, Bell hung his bat out, Prior flashed wide, Freddie flashed wide, Trott run-out, Swann hung his bat out.

    Nothing demonic about this pitch at the moment. England will hope it (or Australia) falls to pieces tomorrow, or they are in serious trouble. Advantage Aussies, great disciplined bowling performance.

  • Comment number 55.


    Although I'm a guest in your lovely country at the moment, I can't let you get away with some of your fantasies. The Adelaide Oval is, as you imply, a tedious flat track where even Australia can occasionally struggle to 500+. Believe me, the Brit Oval is completely different, you only need to look at Test cricket statistics to see that. Gregg Matthews on SBS certainly seems to think 350 is enough on this wicket, and he knows a bit about turners with bounce! As to which side has the best attack, surely it's obvious. England's bowlers are more experienced, playing under home conditions, and better led. When Ponting loses this Test, and the Ashes, he can only blame his poor selection of bowlers. To leave out Lee and, especially, Hauritz for an Oval Test was staggering. Ponting wasn't the guy approached by illegal bookies by any chance? Apologies for that - not only Aussies make bad taste jokes!

  • Comment number 56.

    To weight in to the debate about who's bowling attack is stronger and more potent - As usual, let the stats do the talking:

    The Aussies have 4 of the top 5 wicket takers, and more bowlers avg. under 32.

    I.e.. the Aussie attack is taking more wickets, more cheaply.

    Swann doesnt scare anyone, even on a day 5 turner.

    Besides, the Aussies will bat for 3 days and score 600.
    We'll be batting last to save the game.
    The Ashes are gone lads.

  • Comment number 57.

    I think a few people on here had a few too many while watching the game and missed chunks of it. The pitch in the afternoon and especially in the evening was nothing like the morning session. They made hay when the pitch let them in the morning. 450 would be a hell of a score on that bombsite. The pitch is making Marcus North look like Shane Warne for crying out loud. (Yes I do know the difference between the actual types of spinner they are, I'm talking about the amount of turn and bounce). Warne nearly jumped out of the commentary box and un-retired when he saw what was happening.
    Fair enough, some wickets were thrown away, Collingwood and Flintoff spring to mind. Bell played a decent knock, he made 72 not 7 or 2. Teams shouldn't rely on one player to make all their runs anyway. It must be a British thing, who scored the most runs today, better slag him off then. (KP pretty much every time he plays!)
    The issue will be when England bowl. The fact that Harmison has been picked is a joke, why oh why can people not realise this isn't 2005, if it was we'd have had Simon Jones and the series would have been over by now. Harmison is not International class anymore, the other bowlers had better get early wickets otherwise Strauss won't be able to set a field with Harmison in the attack.

  • Comment number 58.

    Davidleigh, would not your batting lineup of "Srauss, Rudolph, Bell, KP, Trott, Prior, Swann" for the SA tour be a little embarassing to 'England'. Surely 4 out of the top 6 being South Africans is too much - if I were a Brit I'd want to see home grown talent given a go even if it wasn't as successful. How else will ENGLISH kids be encouraged to take up the game?

  • Comment number 59.

    thosknapp, you have got to be kidding complaining about Australian bowling rates - the Poms have been going at about 12 overs per hour for most of the series!!

  • Comment number 60.

    Unfortunately Ben's criticism of Bell is spot on... as is the fact its symptomatic of England's lack of application.

    Yes, Bell did make a core after a shakey start, but Strauss was the one holding things together. Bell was "in" and it was then down to him to make a decisive score, but it was also the case that it was just a matter of time until he threw his wicket away, its something he does all too often and that top batsmen, when set, do rarely.

    I thought Bell may have cracked it and managed to eventually be "the man" and get the first ton in an innings, but he reverted to type... flattering to deceive.

    Credit to Trott, he looked very organised (after trying to run himself out first up); many of the other batsmen could learn a lot from his positive defensive shot first up.


    To those who mentioned Rudolph, I think he's got another 1-2yrs to go on his residency; and personally I'd play him at #3 - we might end up with the SA 2nd team representing Englnand, but at least they bring a confident winning attitude, something all except Freddie lack.

  • Comment number 61.

    #53 - you're joking right?

    Look at recent first innings scores at the Oval.

    England had the advantage in the game from the minute they won the toss - as has been said, its a 450+ wicket, and we gave wickets away rather than being got out.

    The one advantage is, a lower score moves the game on and makes a result more likely, rather than possibly having to declare.

    The way the wicket is reacting on day 1, the toss was crucial and should leave the team batting last at a massive disadvantage, it looks, weather permitting, like it could be a result wicket - let's hope Swann has a career match.

  • Comment number 62.

    Hello Ben,
    It's lovely to see you've been "promoted".
    Sorry I can't give an opinion on England, Wales and Africa's V Oz performance yesterday, as I am holed up in deepest Turkey at the moment.
    Still, you portray exactly what I would have expected from that bunch of, how should I put it, running on formers!
    I'm looking forward to our little banter again next week (mostly one-way), when hopefully, you are back to almost live-text, and I have satellite contact with the "real world".
    Would you believe Turkey banned You-tube? Also I have incredible trouble just getting sites like your's (BBC)
    P.S. I also have problems getting rum here. fortunately, the beer is OK. Oh, and I never rated Bell or Colleywhatsit as test batsmen anyway. Nor Cook or ..........

  • Comment number 63.

    What do Ian Bell or KP have to do? It seems like the surest way to be criticised by the BBC is to top score in the England innings, come on BBC give the guys a little credit!

    Ken, Belsize Pk

  • Comment number 64.

    Thosknapp.....england bowlers are more experienced,at taking a few wickets at 50 runs apiece,we picked a poor bowling lineup for this pitch,ill give you that,but at the end of the day we took 8 wickets on this pitch.Swann is a spinner we do not fear.Its going to take an exceptional performance to bowl us out twice.The pitch is a day 3 pitch,still great for batting.Especially a batting lineup that is more talented(not hard to begin with),disciplined,and hardened group looking for revenge.They will not throw their wickets away.The outfield is superfast as well,aussies will get real value for their strokemaking brilliance,hope you enjoy your time down under

  • Comment number 65.

    Thosknopp......i have to go to work now,ill blog on in 8 hours time to talk more,GO AUSSIES!

  • Comment number 66.

    kenpage72 wrote:
    What do Ian Bell or KP have to do?
    Well, for starters, how about be fit and score lots of runs?

    My question would be: why, oh why, don't we pick in-form batsmen?
    Or the best wicket-keeper? Or spinners who can actually spin the god-damn-ball.

  • Comment number 67.

    It must be time for Collingwood to go. How many times do we have to see him nick to slip before truding back to the stands with that confused look on his face. For all his "good eggyness" he does not have the technique to be a top class batsmen and has been exposed by the Australian bowlers. Perhaps he is England's first number 4 who is unable to play a cover drive. Lets get rid now. Trott looks pretty solid and will form the basis of the middle order with KP.

  • Comment number 68.

    Aussie to bat England out of the game now. England have blown their chance to put the Aussies under pressure. Australia will score 500.

  • Comment number 69.

    How good a score it is rather depends on what Australia make, doesn't it?
    At start of day all the experts talked 450 + ,later on it is "350 good score" which suggests the state of the pitch has been rather reassessed.
    Now it could be because a few English batsment threw their wickets away batting was made to look harder than it is. After all no-one actually fell to a seriously misbehaving ball.
    On the other hand , it may well be that scoring became more and more difficult as the day progressed, due to pitch conditions , and that this brought about the injudicious strokes ?
    I suspect the Aussies will be a bit more patient (they don't have to win , and for all the bluster about never being interested in drawing matches they were pretty quick to go very defensive in the middle session) so England will need to bowl well - but if they do so , and especially if early wickets are taken, pressure will mount on Australia and we could be looking at a very good match.

    And I confess I would not have picked Bell myself but reckon he deserves a lot of praise for his innings today. I don't think he chucked his wicket either - was a decent ball got him just after a break - it happens.
    Sometimes even to Aussies...

  • Comment number 70.

    The most important thing was not to have a complete horror show in the first innings as at Headingley. It was a good day for England because they won the toss. Bell did Ok. Trott looks like he could make a few runs for England before he gets worked out on the front pad issue. The alarm bells should be clanging because Cook needs some attention and Colly looks so ugly at the moment - no change there - but ugly and ineffective won't do. With these 2 issues, kp injured and Bopara out, the batting looks really worrying, and the policy of sticking with batsmen through thick and thin rather than trying new blood has come back to haunt England. The loss of Swann was terrible yesterday because Broad hasn't got a decent partner now, and as is so often with him, either run out of partners or perish because he is the one having to score the runs.
    The crux of the match is how England bowl today. I hope they don't get over excited and spray it around - a real danger with the choice of Harmy over Onions. Just put the damn ball in the right place!

  • Comment number 71.

    We will know how good England's total is by the end of day 2. At the moment it looks light thanks to a gutless performance by most of the top order who really ought to see out the rest of their carreers in a T20 game which better suits their attention span and shot selection. Sorry to say it about a man I have admired so much but Collingwood has had it at this level - we cannot keep picking him on a fading reputation for providing gutsy rearguards and he really has no place in the 1 day set-up. Notwithstanding the pitch I still back Ponting to drive at least a hundred nails into Englands coffin and keep hold of little urn. There are positives however - Trotts maturity, Strauss' quality as a batter and Bell's success. I remember reading how Boycott prepared for a WI tour by setting up a bowling machine set to max in a gym coming off a bare wooden floor. Bell would do well to copy and iron out the only real weakness in his game.

  • Comment number 72.

    I have made centuries as a batsman and its much easier to turn 50 into 100 than to make 50 in the first place. When you first come out to bat you are at your most vulnerable point, you dont know what the pace and bounce of the wicket will be like so you are not settled. The ball looks more like the size of the squash ball than a cricket ball as your eyes need time to adjust.
    Once you have made 50 you are really comfortable with the wicket, you have seen all the bowlers and know what each one is doing. The ball starts to become larger, as your eyes are fully adjusted and the repetive task of leaving balls outside off stump has given you a confident feeling of where your stumps are in relation to the line of the ball. Only a lapse in concentration or a freak ball will get you out now.
    After 100 the ball is looking more like a soccer ball, you have so much time to adjust you can have a cup of tea between the bowler releasing it and you making your decision of what stroke to play. This is truly a heaven you play the game to arrive at. Over confidence or a truly freakish ball is the only way you can get out now.

    Bell suffers from a lack of concentration. For someone to make so many fifties, batting high up the order, without converting, it is the only explanation. He has done the HARD work, and it continually throwing it away with momentary lapses. Batting is more about mental strength, than it is about technical ability.
    When a batsman is regularly getting out cheap you challenge their technique, and rightfully so, but the reason Bell is never likely to be successful at test level is because of his inability to concentrate.
    Cook, Bopara, Flintoff, Prior and Collingwood all have big floors in their techniques. Good bowling can sort any of them out pretty quickly.

  • Comment number 73.

    I am sick and tired of seeing all of our "fans" slagging off the team after day one of a test match. If we win they will say it was the best team since sliced bread and if we lose it'll be sack the lot of them.

    Yes, some threw away their wicket, but most of the negative people have never even stepped on a pitch. Trying to bat against 90 m.p.h. is not easy!

    Anyway 350 is par for the course on a slightly helpful wicket. The match will hinge on how many the aussies get in their first innings.


    England 323
    Australia 404
    England 263
    Australia 155


  • Comment number 74.

    I have to agree with Ben on the 'hundreds' problem. When Australia needed it, someone has stood up and been counted.
    In their first innings, I predict both Ponting and Michael Clarke to make hundreds, one of them a big one, an innings that will prove to be a match winner. Without Pietersen, England dont have a player with the skill or the grit to do this!
    On a more positive note, Trott looked good though. Seems like a pressure player. We could do with a few of those.

  • Comment number 75.

    307-8 is half-decent: we're still in the game.
    I predict we'll get 325 and that Australia will finish 20 runs either side of this. 250 from England in the second innings will then see the Aussies needing somewhere in the region of 230-250 to win across Sunday evening/ Monday. At this point, my crystal ball has glazed over....
    Am much impressed by Broad's increased gumption and improving contributions over the series. He's a better player at 23 than Flintoff was and I have a sneaking feeling that he might be more of a key bowler in this match than everyone is expecting. We have our selection right, the Aussies haven't. Three very tall lads banging it in aroung 88 mph, a canny swing bowler (if conditions change and permit) and a proper spinning option. If we let the Aussies take a big 1st innings lead then we need shooting!

  • Comment number 76.

    Ben, only one line on the consistently woeful Cook? Your frontline batsmen must come to the crease looking at least like they mean business, not rabbits caught in the headlights. How many chances is Cook going to get? I did like the look of Trott, just hope because he is not part of the "London Cricket Mafia" he is given more opportunitys.

  • Comment number 77.

    So you want Strauss (Born in SA) Trott (Born in SA) KP (Born in SA) Rudolph (Born in SA) Moore (Born in SA)

    Im sure you can find 6 more Saffas to play for England.hehehe

  • Comment number 78.

    I think it was unfair to single out Bell's shortcomings, yes he does frustrate when he plays so well and doesn't go on to make a century.
    But yesterday he showed a lot of courage coming in at 12-1,with everyone expecting the worst, he displayed true grit and determination, I woud have settled for that from the other top order batsmen.
    Now having listened to Tuffnel, who knows a bit about this ground, having taken 11 Australian wickets in the 97 game (albeit a dead rubber)he reckons this pitch is going to turn sideways(if only Monty had been in good nick), so I reckon if we can get them out for less than 400 it will still be game on, as the team batting last averages 140 here.

  • Comment number 79.

    I would like Bell to score big when he gets in. But getting the odd 70 is ok for a number 7, not a number 3 batsman. Cook also needs to deliver, we seem to have forgotten him, with all this Bell bashing.
    Re. the negative attitude we have over English cricket, I remember a certain cricket commentator on TMS making a dazzling comment once. Michael Vaughan was in his rich vein of form, think he'd just made 197, and the commentator criticized him for not turning them into 200's!! Blimey!!

  • Comment number 80.

    I'm disappointed that we picked Trott - he's South African - he lived there until he was 21. and listen to the guy speak, he sounds South African, not English. Sure Strauss was born there but he actually sounds English and also therefore he must've moved over here at a young age.
    I would've preferred an Englishman to have been chosen - we have plenty of options - Ramps, Carberry, Key, Denly, etc.
    And if anyone should mention Pietersen to me, I thought the same about him when I read an article on teletext a few months before he became eligible to play for us. Having said to that KP does seem to love playing for England - I like his attitude and how much he visibly enjoys entertaining our crowds.
    I disagree with people who've said it's ludicrous not to have picked Trescothick - the guy said 'no' last week. Now let's leave the guy alone and respect his decision.

    As for Bell, I didn't see the play live yesterday, just the highlights, but he definitely needs to improve his conversion rate. 22 fifties compared to 8 hundreds just isn't good enough. And he also needs to work on his technique so that he stops bringing his bat down at a big angle when playing backfoot defensives - that's how he got out in this innings and so many other innings for England in the last 12 months. Surely he should've already been working on this with Andy Flower??!!

  • Comment number 81.

    I agree with Ben when he says
    "I am sick and tired of seeing all of our "fans" slagging off the team after day one of a test match. If we win they will say it was the best team since sliced bread and if we lose it'll be sack the lot of them."

    The fans who say it was the best team since sliced bread are clearly delusional. This is the exact reason why England have been in the wilderness for two decades. People singing their praises after the Ashes triumph of 2005 and it went to their heads, when in reality we only won the series because "Warne dropped the Ashes" after he dropped a simple catch to wrap up the final test.

    In truth, England have been poor for a very long time and the only glimpses of quality have come from Pietersen, Flintoff and a few cameo efforts of various players, but no consistent performances other than that.

    Strauss - Looked promising early in his career when he averaged 60 odd for a while, but then the Aussies sorted him out and like so many others became nothing more than a good county player. Has made runs in this series but only because the current Aussie bowling attack is weak. Not a test standard batsman.

    Cook- Promising youngster who is now going in the wrong direction. This series, against a weak Aussie bowling line up had an unbelievable opportunity to cement his place in the team with a few hundreds. Has been disappointing and not delivered, placing doubts over whether he has what it takes at the top level.

    Bopara- Another county specialist, because like so many Englishmen, can look awesome in the "B" grade version of the game. Not good enough to make the transition to test level.

    Bell- Lacks in the mental strength department. It doesnt matter whether he is on 1, or 51 he still looks just as likely to get out. Hundreds are essential for one who harbours the desire to play at the top level. Not good enough.

    Collingwood- Fabulous fielder, one day bowler, scratchy courageous batsman, but no test player. The ultimate scrapper who has a big heart, but really a poor technique outside off stump has put pay to his test achievements. His policy has always been to leave everything outside off stump and milk the runs off his legs. The trouble is he cannot control his instincts to waft the willow outside off stump, a shot he has never mastered, so he should leave well alone. The only problem, is a batsman who cannot play shots outside off stump is pretty much useless as a test cricketer. Has survived in the team only because England have had noone better.

    Pietersen - A class player who is a proven match winner. The English love to rubbish him because he is a Sth African, and they wish they could have such a talent with English heritage. A dominant batsman who is often criticised for getting out playing audacious strokes, but when the audacious strokes go sailing over long on for 6 he is rarely given the praise he deserves. The tall poppy syndrome that exists in the English character ensures they will never be able to truly recognise a rare talent.

    Flintoff- A truly great bowler, who has had to carry the load on his own so much so that his body can no longer stand up to it. Like Pietersen with the bat, he has had nobody to support him on any sort of consistent basis. His batting has been at times exciting, and promised much, but his technique has never been sound enough to put him in the category of a great all rounder.

    Prior- A stroke player, who has all the shots, but unfortunately he has all the shots that get you out as well. He is not gonna save any matches for you, but can add some handy runs down the order. You want him coming in when you are 5-400, rather than 5-170. Unfortunately the latter has been more the norm.

  • Comment number 82.

    PS. and why didn't we have Rashid in the squad as the 2nd spinner, rather than Panesar???! Panesar has taken 10 wickets at 71 each for Northants this season (and has been poor for England in the last 12-18 months - as Warne said he's "played the same test 30 times") so it would've been daft playing him and so why have him in the squad? Surely Rashid was a better option to have in the squad. also would give us the extra variety of having leg spin in the side. if we'd gone down the 2 spinner route that is.
    I'd rather have had Onions in too. What has Onions done wrong to deserve to miss 2 tests out of the 5?!!! That can't help his confidence.
    I have no problem with Harmy being in the squad of 14 for this test but how he gets in above Onions I'll never know, especially as Onions was picked ahead of him in the 2nd & 3rd tests!!!

    And to add to my earlier comments re: Bell - he did obviously do well, (better than Cook, Prior, Colly & Flintoff) but he probably dhould've gone on to get more runs. But then again if 2 or 3 of those 4 I've mentioned had got more runs maybe Bell getting out on 72 wouldn't have been a big problem!

  • Comment number 83.

    can anybody explain to me why j.trott wasn't out stumped katich, and instead was out run out? It seems the only difference is the fact that it was a normal fielder instead of the wicketkeeper??

  • Comment number 84.

    You have to put Bells knock in context of the innings, first he was TOP scorer, secondly not only was he prompted from 4 to 3, but virtually came in as an opener at 12-1 and although he should have gone on to score more runs, he did better than anyone else,give the guy a break.

  • Comment number 85.

    barrymanulow - I disagree with you on Strauss. look at this conversion rate from 50's to 100's. and look at the fact that he scored 2 100's in the 2005 Ashes against a very good bowling attack inc. Warne & McGrath.
    Also I disagree with you on Bopara. I wouldn't have had him in at no.3 either, but I would've had him at 5 or 6. I agree with Graham Thorpe on that one.
    I agree with you re: Collingwood - he's technique outside off stump isn't great at all.
    As for Cook maybe we should try him at no.3 and bring Carberry in to open for this match???
    And re: KP, he does get plenty of (deserved) praise when he hits brilliant shots, whether they go for 4 or 6.

  • Comment number 86.

    “Anderson, Flintoff and Swann are brilliant. Broad is ever-growing.”
    Swann is brilliant-joke comment, he has done ok at the start of his career.”

    “Imagine if this was our lineup.
    WE WOULD be so strong. “

    Trescothick- over-rated at test level against good bowling attacks due to his lack of foot movement and people have rose tinted nostalgia glasses on. Career stats comparable to Bell and Bell has played far more of his career against top class bowling (25% of his tests against Aus.) Tres was an excellent one day player but in 15 tests against the Aussies failed to score a century and averaged just over 30. The 2nd best attack during his test career was Pak and he averaged 33 in 12 tests. Ramps averaged 27 in tests over 52 tests. Only 2 tons and failed to convert 12 50’s. He would love to have Bell’s test record, which is far superior - ave 40 - 8 tons in fewer tests.

    “Ok, pieterson is injured..... just thought how much better the england line up would be with him in it and how we'd trounce the aussies if he replaced bell or colly. Then RAMPS could have very easily been picked for this test, or indeed any test over the past couple of years, but no, theres clearly some political rubbish going on there cause the selectors won't pi. ck him even though hes been the best batsman for 3 years on the trott. Then Treso, he sounded like he would play this one off test match if they actually had the bottle to select him, but oh no, that'd be too much of a hard thing for our selectors to do.”

    Your hatred of Bell seems to be fueled by your adoration of Ramprakesh, a flat track bully who can do it at Div 2 county level, until he is stuck on 99 tons and all the old demons resurface. Do you honestly believe Ramps would have done as well as Bell today. Bell’s averaged over 70 in Div 1 in the past 2 years, the bridge in class between Div 2 and tests is enormous.

    Cook and Collie have been far more culpable than Bell in this series and Cooks career stats are almost identical to Bells and yet he seems to escape the continual bile that Bell attracts for some reason. Bell has scored two 50’s in 4 innings since he came back,yet all you do is lambast him, while eulogising over an inferior test player, who had exactly the same faults that anger you so much in Bell.

  • Comment number 87.

    I note that within all of this debate "Mr Anonymous" again escapes attention....the nowhere man, the invisible man of the team, firmly entrenched at No2, and has been completely outbatted by the rest of the team down to No8......Alistair Cook

  • Comment number 88.

    What of the future? The following should never play for England again, having utterly failed to perform at international level:

    Cook, Bell, Collingwood, Harmison, KP

    Freddie's out, so the core of the NEXT test team will be:

    Strauss, Trott, Prior, Broad, Anderson, Swann, Onions. We need to find some hungry young batsmen who can make the transition to test level; for once we have a great copy of bowlers coming on.

  • Comment number 89.


    I agree with some of your comments. and granted, you do seem to know your stuff. but I disagree with you on Ramps, yes 2nd Div standard bowling way inferior to Test match bowling, but let's remember that Ramps did average over 40 against Australia! and also re: Bell, yes has done alright since coming back into the side (though I wouldn't have chosen to put him in myself) but lets not forget that he was plumb lbw on 18 when he went on to get 52. sure he still had to go on and get those remaining 34 runs, but how he wasn't given out on 18 I'll never know. terrible decision. I'm not having a go at Bell, or you, merely saying that u should remember that bit of info and bear it in mind when judging Bell's performances so far in this series.
    but anyway Bell did pretty well yesterday even though again didn't convert to a hundred (as Clarke, Ponting, North etc. would've done more often than not) - shame Colly, Prior, Flintoff & Cook produced so few runs to help Strauss & Bell in getting us to 450-plus!!

  • Comment number 90.

    aitchin - your comment that the backing of England was 'overwhelmingly positive' in 2005 is correct as soon as we won the Edgbaston test, but after just ONE test in a FIVE test series (Lords) the media were baying for blood, saying the English team were never going to win the ashes etc. It is telling that Ponting said that the Australians would win the first test and then let the English media do the rest. Then after the Edgbaston test, the media had a bout of convenient amnesia and said that this was the best England side ever, they're all invincible etc. And you seem to suggest that a team needs to be winning consistently before they deserve enthusiastic support, which I cannot agree with. I think one of our best assets in the cricket set up is the 'Barmy Army' who travel in large numbers to cheer on England home and abroad even when the outlook's not that rosy (as in Oz in 07).

    tranquility 2k9 - Ramprakash?? Why not just recall Atherton or Gooch whilst we're at it? He wasn't good enough then and isn't going to be a long-term option now, besides which at least Bell is scoring his (albeit still fairly easy) runs in Division 1. If that Division's not good preparation for test level, I fail to see how Ramps scoring highly against Division 2 bowlers justifies a call up. And bring back Michael Vaughan? You make the point about his aura. Well just how damaging would that be to England when one of their talismen was consistently getting out cheaply and his place in the team was not earned? That's what forced Vaughan's retirement in the first place, and it could be argued that Vaughan helped re-create the cult of the England prima-donna that the more direct and straight-talking Hussain tried to get rid of.

    And as for the Bell debate, I think for once we should be praising him. He showed grit and determination and stuck it out rather than taking the easy way out and bottling it. But don't take my word for it, see what a certain Mr. Warne (a critic of Bell) has said.

    And Mr. Dirs - continuing my point from above, the English media makes vast sums of money from being negative because the English as a race are negative people. I'll wager that if we ever had a superstart athlete like Usain Bolt, the media would be saying "yes, but he looked tired in the 200m didn't he, and his preparation was poor, he's really not got the right mental attitude for it etc..." Andy Murray is another classic case of the Jerkyll and Hyde approach of the English media. "Oh he's brilliant, the best player ever, better than anyone else in the history of the game" goes straight to "what a useless player, just shows how bad British tennis is, what an absolute joke, my gran could play better etc"

  • Comment number 91.

    Why the Bell bashing? He topped scored and was out to a no ball.

    At Cardiff KP top scored and was berated.

    As jovial Steve points out the real villains hide behind low scores that don't catch the eye... Collingwood (out of form is his form) and Cook. Both have been absolutely dismal all series yet their places are assured...

  • Comment number 92.

    What are people getting so worked up about Trott, Peiterson being born in SA. Australia had a South African opening for them for 4 years (Keppler Wessels)including the 80's Ashes series in Oz. This is nothing new, they pick them when it suits.

  • Comment number 93.

    Collingwood has had the handy knack of popping up with a brave face saving innings every time he is on the brink of being dropped. People who turn up once in a blue moon and win or save a match are less likely to be criticised than someone like Bell who never seems to perform such a feat.
    Cook is left alone because he has been earmarked as (future england captain) In truth his technique is flawed and only his age is on his side.
    Bell commits the cardinal sin in cricket, he gets himself in, and having done the hard work gets himself out. We are so used to seeing the batsmen of the world turning 50 into a hundred that when one consistently fails to do so it is clearly a wasted opportunity for England to have taken control of a match.

  • Comment number 94.

    "Srauss, Rudolph, Bell, KP, Trott, Prior, Swann, is a good batting line-up for the SA tour."

    It's half of a good batting lineup for South Africa themselves!

  • Comment number 95.

    "recidivists" - steady on man. This is a blog on cricket, not University Challenge.

    As for lapsing back into criminal behaviour, this would be true of the English middle order, but for the fact that they are serial offenders who seem incapable of re-habilitataion.

  • Comment number 96.

    Yesterday's performance was poor. When the majority of your batsmen get out as a result of poor shots then it is difficult to be too positive. There was a lack of mental application in the innings that has been the hallmark of England's series.

    I feel this is relevant in the context of the debate that Dirs prompted with his last post: why haven't we produced a great team since the 60s? I should say though, that I believe that from 04-05 we did have a great team. Unfortunately, again they let themselves down through their mental application (open top bus tour for winning a series?).

    The big issue is that there needs to be an overhaul of County cricket if we are to challenge at the top of the rankings. At present it is sparsely attended - not good preparation for test cricket, especially mental preparation; it is of a poor standard due to having too many sides playing to many matches in too many tournaments; and it is too easy for players of middling ability to make a full-time living from it, meaning that there is little spur for people to work hard and improve their games.

    There is the talent in this country for England to become world beaters, but it is very unlikely to reach its potential in the current structure.

  • Comment number 97.

    That the English tail end has come in and made batting look easy in this series has proven how inept the top half of the batting has been.
    This is because the Australian bowling is weak and they dont have anyone with the ability to clean up or tail quickly.

    Our batsman on the other hand keep finding ways of getting themselves out.

  • Comment number 98.

    I actually do agree with Dirs. I think England did not do what they went in to do and as always the wickets fell with loose shots. Collingwood has had too many chances now and i feel he should be dropped. But i doubt that'd ever happen.

    Also, i am quite surprised at everyone not wanting to pick Bopara for the SA tour. He is a brilliant brilliant player and can really do with some media support. He is no magician and cannot score 100's every innings. We all know there comes a time when ones from slightly dips. Give him a chance...he's do well!!

  • Comment number 99.

    Hi Anthony

    Take your point, but Ramps Aussie average is distorted by his 133 at the oval in a dead rubber and 2 not out innings when he batted at 6. In the pivotal no 3 position he averaged 12 in 10 innings against all opposition and his highest score was 23.

    As for the LBW against Bell, Strauss was just as plumb in the last test, as were 2 Aus batsmen in the first test. I agree he has ridden his luck and is frustrating, but if the media and public got behind him it would help take the pressure off him- bob willis's comments on Sunday for instance were a disgrace.

  • Comment number 100.

    “i am quite surprised at everyone not wanting to pick Bopara for the SA tour. He is a brilliant brilliant player and can really do with some media support. He is no magician and cannot score 100's every innings. We all know there comes a time when ones from slightly dips. Give him a chance...he's do well!!”

    Jawedkadri- Bopara’s flaw of playing well away from his body as he doesn’t get his front foot over far enough has been ruthlessly exposed by the Aussies.
    SA have probably the best bowling attack in the world at
    the moment and I fear they would expose him even more ruthlessly. He needs to go back to county cricket and tighten up his technique and then he could still have a test career, further down the order.


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