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Miracles don't happen twice

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Tom Fordyce | 18:42 UK time, Saturday, 8 August 2009

At the north end of Headingley, draped across two storeys of the half-built new pavilion, is a huge yellow banner that reads 'ROAR FOR ENGLAND'.

By the close of play on Saturday, with Australia trampling the home side joyously into the Yorkshire dirt, England supporters could have been forgiven for dragging it to the ground and burning it like some dreadful effigy.

If ever there was a performance when Leeds felt less like roaring for England, this was it. Roaring at England, certainly, as well as weeping, gnashing teeth and removing own hair with force - but by the end even that felt like too much effort for the resigned hordes stumbling out of the ground.

These days were meant to be over. This Australian team is not the fearsome beast of old. It contains no Tugga, no Tubby, no Thommo. Warne and Hayden are confined to the commentary box. Half this team could walk unrecognised down Kirkstall Lane.

Despite all that, this has been as one-sided a Test as any of thrashings dished out down the years by that classy coterie.

That England were the team one up in the series seemed incomprehensible. This has been a steamrollering, a hammering, and old-fashioned spanking all rolled into one. Was it really only two days ago that there was talk of sealing the Ashes with one Test to go?

Anderson's bowling was wayward and he was struggling with a hamstring injury too
It was hard to identify the most humiliating moment - Stuart Clark, a man with a Test average of 13, hoisting Graeme Swann out of the ground for a massive six and outscoring nine England players in the process; Stuart Broad bowling a metre wide of off-stump, just to stop the batsmen scoring any runs; Ravi Bopara spending more time getting to the crease than staying there.

When Broad dismissed centurion Marcus North to take his sixth wicket and finally bring the tourists' innings to a close, he celebrated with all the glee of a man punched repeatedly in the face. Maybe he knew what was coming next.

The most galling aspect was that the crowd came to Headingley prepared to cheer the roof off, had there been the slightest encouragement. Tickets for the first Ashes Saturday here for eight years have been like gold dust. Fancy dress had been hired, expectations raised, hip-flasks smuggled in.

England couldn't bowl as abjectly as they had on Friday, went the turnstile talk. Why, if Harmison steamed in and James Anderson and Graham Onions found some swing, Australia might be rattled out for no more than 260 - a lead of just 150-ish. England could then bat with the sun on their backs, set a target of 200... and we all know what happens when Australia chase low totals at Headingley...

Staggeringly, England actually played worse. The bowlers alone produced more toxic waste than a Russian power station.

93 runs came off the first 22 overs of the day. Harmison bowled as if the pitch was half the length and the wickets twice the height, repeatedly plopping the ball down in the wrong place like a broken crane. James Anderson sent outswingers out wide and inswingers into the sweet spots on North and Michael Clarke's bats.

All around, old pros chuntered and fumed at the long hops and half-volleys. Ian Botham, the hero of 1981, strode about the pavilion with smoke billowing from his ears. Mike Brearley, his captain in that astonishing comeback, watched on grimly from the press box.

28 years ago, the Aussies famously had a first innings lead of 224. Here it was over a hundred runs more.

On that occasion, England also had an all-rounder capable of demolishing teams and a fast bowler who could run through the opposition. This time the inspirational all-rounder is at home with ice wrapped round his knee, and the fast bowler going for five an over.

Australia batted with a freedom and finesse that made a mockery of England's first innings travails.

Clarke, splendid all series, looked certain for his third century of the summer until being surprisingly trapped in front just before lunch. North, less celebrated but equally effective, went to his own ton with a six swung mightily over midwicket. Not for the first time, thoughts went to the missing Kevin Pietersen.

Pretty much everyone joined in the fun. Mitchell Johnson carved away happily. Clark batted as if his surname had an 'e' at the end. North smashed the ball to all four corners of the compass.

Even when Andrew Strauss and Alistair Cook batted untroubled through the first hour of the second innings, the stench of inevitability hung in the air.

If most inside the ground felt sorry for Strauss, let down as he was by his bowlers, there were only phlegmatic sighs when Ben Hilfenhaus caught him bang in front. And if Bopara was unlucky that Asad Rauf failed to spot the big inside edge he got to his lbw shout, England can hardly argue that decisions in previous matches haven't gone their way.

Out they came, and back they went. Bell fenced, Collingwood missed, Cook poked. 44 balls, five top-order wickets. Even in the annals of England's most humiliating capitulations, this was something of fresh horror.

To hope for a second Miracle of Headingley is to believe in fairies and fire-breathing dragons.

To even dream that the game might go beyond three days, or that an innings defeat could be avoided, is to invite hollow laughs from those who have witnessed the first two days here.

Going to the decider at The Oval, Australia have the momentum and the form. England can still win back the Ashes, but they have a mountain to climb - and where crampons are required, they are currently wearing rollerskates.

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    To say Strauss has been let down by his bowlers is a bit harsh, 445 would normally be considered an averager score! Yes they gave runs away a bit too much but it is a bit harsh to ask them to come in after seeing THAT batting display on the 1st day and expect them to bowl like it's the final day with a lead of 400!

    The fact is that both innings have been 5 wickets down for less than 100 runs shows who is letting the side down! Pick the best 5 bowlers in world history and they'd have a hard job bowling out the opposition twice for less than 200 (total) runs! But the selectors will probably do what they did in NZ 18 months ago when England failed so badly with the bat (but not this badly) and to the baying of media pundits like you dropped Harmison (good choice) and Hoggard (very bad) we all know how that worked out! Our batting is weaker now than then, and Harmy's back in the team. Changing the bowling is not going to do much if we don't revamp the batting!

    The only bowler I'd drop is Harmy who quite simply should never have been recalled, the others have all shown at some point during this series that they at least have the talent if not the control.

    As for the batters, putting their pics on a dart board, throw 3 darts and drop whoever you hit, you'd probably not go far wrong!

  • Comment number 2.

    Seeing the ROAR FOR ENGLAND banner on TV just made me laugh. There needs to be a few changes for The Oval, but I doubt the selectors will enforce them. I just hope Strauss doesn't talk about the 'positives' out of this match!

  • Comment number 3.

    Declare, retreat and reorganise. Otherwise the Aussies won't even be happy with the draw they need at the Oval.

  • Comment number 4.

    "The bowlers alone produced more toxic waste than a Russian power station." Fordyce, at least we're getting some verbiage with line, length and accuracy.

  • Comment number 5.

    Fordyce himself could come in at three and do no worse.

    At least this result is so humiliating that there can only be changes for The Oval.

  • Comment number 6.

    Perhaps we should go back to just playing on Sunday afternoons? This international stuff is clearly way beyond us.

  • Comment number 7.

    Once again the media hype has led English sportsmen to believe that they were better than they actually are..... The players seem to have believed the hype that they simply needed to turn up at Headingley and the Ashes would be theirs....

    Media, fans and even the players themselves "bashed" the Oz bowlers, saying they were rubbish and "pie chuckers"..... A very, very stupid thing to say, especialy of someone like Johnson..... Look who has come away with muck on their faces.....

    And us England fans are left wondering why the heck we bother.....


  • Comment number 8.

    I think test cricket has died. What a sad dire performance by England. Of course Pieterson And Flintoff are largly to blame By forcing their way into the series knowing they were so unfit it caused too much disruption to the team.
    Scrap the team and in September do not renew any contracts. Pieterson and Flintoff can go and play 20Twenty.
    I do not think there will be another ashes series at least not of 5 matches. The timetable will no longer allow it and this series has proved a 5 match series is a wast of time when 2 matches are a nothing because one team or the other cannot be bothered to play.
    2009 the year the ashes were scattered and we forgot they existed.
    To think people have paid good money to see a contest. Well they have all been duped in my mind. Check the bookies for bets made.

  • Comment number 9.

    Jimmy Anderson. Ahh, Jimmy. Freshly crowned in the media as "The King of Swing". What utter nonsense.

    I have long been critical of Anderson, and subscribe firmly to the opinion that he is vastly over-rated, and is as likely to go at 6 an over as he is to bag a 5-for. And why?

    Sorry, but any quick bowler (and bowler, come to think of it) who is looking at his front foot at the point of delivery is always going to be prone to dragging the ball half way down the track, getting despatched square of the wicket with relative ease by any decent batsman.

    If the ball doesn't swing he is an average bowler. Sorry, but nobody will ever convince me otherwise.

  • Comment number 10.

    Oh dear!! Methinks the "Balls of steel" and talent to match will be difficult to find by the boys in blazers!!

  • Comment number 11.

    As always an excellent article from Tom.

    I have to say the last two days have hurt. Not because England are losing but because of the manner in which they are losing.

    Unfortunatley I'm not sure the players will be hurting as much as the fans and there in lies one of the problems with English cricket over the last few (many) years. Where is the pride?

  • Comment number 12.

    The whole England set up is second rate. We don't seem to produce World Class players anymore and when someone shows promise we coach that out of them and turn them into mediocre players.

    And don't get me started on the injury list. Playing football as part of a warm up, who do we employ as fitness coaches? Mickey Mouse could do better; Bell injured before the last test and Prior before this; unbelievable; why not try Rugby or bare knuckle boxing as a warm up?

    Rushing players back before they are properly fit; whatever happened to long term planning? If the Ashes are so important to the T&CCB why play half fit players in India & West Indies etc? And as for discipline. Players like Flintoff seem to think Cricket is a game at Test level; it isn't; it's a sport that should be played by professionals, of which there are very few at the top of English Cricket.

    We are doomed to playing second fiddle to the Australians for years until we adopt a more professional attitude.

  • Comment number 13.

    Time, I think, for England to be removed from the club of test playing nations, and replaced by someone better - like Ireland or Scotland.

    Or perhaps the Netherlands, who beat them in the 20/20.

    England's day has gone: off into the Sunset of Empire, there's good chaps.

    How good is this???

  • Comment number 14.

    Replaced by Scotland you cannot even play football

  • Comment number 15.

    Oh and banks Forgot Scotland cannot run banks either.

  • Comment number 16.

    For goodness sake, I cannot believe the negativity. We are playing a game of Cricket. How many of you bloggers have lost a game so badly? I would bet, lots of you.

    Come on boys, chin up - think of England again. How does the team feel ? Can you imagine ? They can't wander down to the pub and down eight pints (well nor can I I'm 68) like you can. Never-the-less, doom mongering is not the right attitude at this time.

    England will re group and what do we have to look forward to? A final.

    So come on, stop all this downward looking and look forward positively. Our team managers are not nuts, nor are our players. Trust them to win at the Brit Oval. Are you Brits or not ?

    Chins up.

    Nimrod



  • Comment number 17.

    I couldn't disagree more with #8.

    Test cricket is the true test not the crash bang wallop 20Twenty rubbish that cheapens the art of bowling a side out. And being able to play for a draw can still be thrilling as at Cardiff.

    All that's happened is people have believed the hype that England are anything special - when Clark hasn't played until this match and Lee still hasn't played - booing Ponting rather than wanting to watch one of the world's best batsmen ply his trade - and ignoring the fact that apart from the rain the Aussies would likely be 3-1 up by the end of this match.

    Now that the hype has been exposed, it's easier to knock the format of the game rather than realise that because the Aussies don't take knock about 20/20 seriously they bat better and because they build an innings (a la North - one hour for 3 runs then next day posts a ton) they are better test players.

  • Comment number 18.

    Never on earth did I think I would see such a painful performance as England have shown in this test. Yet they will still go into the Oval knowing a win will bring back the Ashes, so the difficultly will be how they respond to this thrashing.
    There is no point pressing the panic button and changing the whole team or make up of the team, if we keep doing that then there will be a new team each summer. Hopefully they can learn from the trouncing the Windies gave them in the 1st test last Winter and come back stronger. I do however think that there is enormous pressure on Bopara and Bell. When we bat with only 5 Batsman in this series (albeit, with a bit of help lower down the order) at least one of these needs to get into 3 figures in order to win games.
    The Aussies have Bopara's number and the only thing I'm suprised with is that Ponting himself hasn't tried to bowl him out. He seems to have totally lost confidence and playing the Aussies is not where you want to be if thats the case. I've never really been convinced about Bell, the fact that nearly every Aussie player and fan was hoping he would get recalled says it all.
    Now is the time for the coaches to really prove their worth. The momentum has swung all series and it just depends whether the players have what it takes to move it back at the oval.
    If Flintoff is fit he will come back for Harmy. He is the one player (with the exception of poor old Simon Jones)who the Aussies fear and lets just hope the script is written for him. With Flintoff, it is not so much his figures that impress but his presence in the face of the opposition.
    I really do think we need to take a gamble and bring in 2 new batsman for Bopara and Bell. Any suggestions? The strength of our team is our bowlers, despite their problems in this test, England still have to attack and get 20 wickets.

  • Comment number 19.

    One of the things I like about Ponting as a person is he's magnanamous in victory (lets face it he's had lots of practice!) but I really hope when asked after winning this test he just says

    "to be honest mate, they were blo@@y awful, if I'd have known they were going to be that bad I'd have recalled Hughes just to build his confidance back up"

  • Comment number 20.

    so we have been bowled out cheaply twice in a row. Big deal, this has happened to plenty of good teams in the past. All of a sudden we lose a game and people are saying we dont produce any good players!? I think we have as good a chance as Australia as winning the Ashes at the Oval and i will fully support my team!

  • Comment number 21.

    England have to be positive at the Oval and realize that they have played so badly and are still level in the series which will be a pschyological boost (somehow). Get flintoff fit put the aussies in first get 20 wickets and regain the ashes. Simple.

  • Comment number 22.

    lol

    actually lmao!!

    Not at the test match, but at you lot! I'd like to think that there are plenty of tongues firmly in cheek above ;)

    After Lord's, Australia were useless and should go home, now England should just give up and retire.

    England have performed badly with bat and ball in this match, and australia have excelled with both. When this happens it usually ends up pretty one-sided!

    There should probably be a couple of changes for the Oval (Bopara/Bell and 3/4 looks horrible, Harmison shows why a lot of people were so reluctant to welcome him back in the first place), but don't over-react. That is, the opposite to the over-reaction we had after going 1-0 up ;)

  • Comment number 23.

    Over very many years we have witnessed some abject performances from either the bat or the bowl but this caps the lot, I can't imagine ever seeing any worse than this as long as I live. Win toss, bat score 102, Aussies come in and thrash us around for 445, with numbers 5 and 6 in a 150 plus partnership. We enter the field and are sitting after day 2 on 82 for 5, with only Bhopra unlucky (worth remembering that as a rule the Aussies have had far more of the dodgy calls).
    I agree with "nick of time" who said that we could be 3-1 down tomorrow if the weather hadn't intervened.
    Do contracts work? Are they in a comfort zone?
    What do i know, jeez I am so upset...."brandy nurse i need brandy!!!!"

  • Comment number 24.

    The big question to ask now is: Can England pick themselves up after such an embarrassing, pathetic performance and win the final Test?

    Just as Australia find top gear and have finally found the correct team, England are sliding into an abyss. Perhaps, they peaked too soon? 1-1 with the final Test to come flatters England after the last two days.

    As to 'The Oval', batting changes must surely come. Bopara should be replaced by Trott. I would imagine Bell will be given another chance. Alarming to see Collingwood losing all form again. Blame that on the appearance of Stuart Clark. The Aussies 'aura' has reappeared!

    Surely, Rip Van Flintoff will emerge from his rest, so a bowler may probably be sacrificed. Hard not to pick Broad after his 6 wickets, so it may be 'last chance saloon' Harmison.

    England's confidence has been severely dented these last two days and one can only hope, with backs to the wall, they rediscover some British bulldog spirit, and make the last Test one to savour.

  • Comment number 25.



    I dissagree with #20, England has no chance of winning the last test, why, Bopara is not being droped 2 to 3 times in each inning of hundreds made as was the case with the windes when he made about 5 tons, his footwork is poor to start, Bell on the other hand has not been ring for a some time.

    I here the commentators saying England two best players are out so the team is weaken, rubbish, Petterson and Flintoff played in the first 3 test and except for flintoff breliance at Lords, Australia should be 2-1 up heading to the fifth test.

    I hear Mr. Boycott and other such commentators saying West Indies connot play Swing Blowing, well, how can, certainly not England, nor even Australia look what happenned at lords.

    writting from Jamaica,

  • Comment number 26.

    Whist the game might appear lost, it aint over 'til it's over

  • Comment number 27.

    Time to cancel the open top bus. Hope we don't lose our deposit - perhaps the Aussies would like to hire it.

  • Comment number 28.

    Surely people now realise that Steve Harmison does not have the mental strength to be a Test Match Player? His County for is almost irelivant as despite his obvious ability, he cannot manage the mental demands of the test arena.

  • Comment number 29.

    Bell and Bopara have got to go. This is a one-off winner-takes-all test at the Oval now. Offer millions to Thorpe and Trescothick. We've got to go in there with the best, but we can't pad the batting too much as we now need to get 20 wickets. Realistic team for Oval:

    strauss
    cook
    denly
    trott
    collingwood
    prior
    flintoff
    broad
    swann
    onions
    anderson

  • Comment number 30.

    I am absolutely appalled, this is one of the worst performances I can recall in 30 years. Why on earth where Bell and Harmison recalled - everybody could see the flaws in this selection, the selectors apart... the cosey club again that rewards failure time and time again. This abject performance is nothing short of disgraceful and heads must roll. The players should be ashamed - Headingley was, the Western Terrace stunned into silence for the first time in years so at least the administrators/ECB got what they wanted. It's time for the unfashionable players from unfashionable counties, those who are deemed not as talented as the likes of Bell and Bopara - their so called great techniques fall apart at the slightest pressure so what have we to loose... not the Ashes anyway.

  • Comment number 31.

    I nearly fainted with shock when I checked the score earlier but you have to see the funny side; and such an abject defeat is a good reason to get the broom out: Esllou's team above is all right and it looks forward (except Flintoff) apart from Colly, who surely won't go to SA this winter.

    While we're at it, why not add Rashid as well?

  • Comment number 32.

    May I suggest fielding the Pig and Whistle B team at the Oval? Would make a better go of it that this lot.... :-)

  • Comment number 33.

    Even before this test I was half hoping this collection of cricketers we call the England team wouldn't win the series and reclaim the Ashes. Now after the past two days I am pleading!! Not because I don't want England to hold the coveted Ashes. Not because I don't want us to whip the Aussies every time we play them (and not just at cricket - all sports!) No - but because I don't want to demean the achievements of the 2005 team.
    That team had real quality. Yes, it was a close-run thing, but they deserved to win!! This lot - where is the quality, apart from the two injured you-know-who's. No Vaughan, with quality batting, and leadership. No Trescothick, to guarantee a good start. One could go on.
    Why on earth are Bopara and Bell playing? Why has Broad suddenly been cast as the allrounder. Why is Prior - who after all is first and foremost a wicketkeeper - being classed as a frontline batsman?
    It really is a horror show from first - selectors - to last - performance on the field.
    The fat lady might as well sing now!!

  • Comment number 34.

    This is exactly what made the comments of "why change a winning team," so funny. We won the 2nd Test on the performance of 4-5 players, and we had 3-4 players still consistenetly not performing. You take away from injury most of the performing players (KP, Flintoff, Anderson playing injured with no support, etc,) and your left with your consistent non-performers. Yet the selectors and management think there fine and these non-performers are going to out of nowhere perform. Nasser hit it dead on with "RIP - Ravi, Ian, Paul." I can't see any reason for Freddie to play in the 5th Test with the risk being another operation, KP just got off crutches, they won't bring in Ramps, Key, or really any consistent in form county batsmen, they say their to old or some other ridiculous reason, but there is always hope. I guess the onething in our favor is we usually bounce back from these blow-out's with a couple wins.

  • Comment number 35.

    A very depressing days cricket ...............

    My team for the oval would be

    G.Boycott
    M.Atherton
    D.Gower
    G.Thorpe
    D.Randle
    I.Botham
    A.Knott
    D.Malcolm
    J.Snow
    D.Underwood
    R.Willis

    As far as I'm aware all of the above are still alive (which is more than our chances of regaining the ashes are) and they couldn't perform any worse at their respective ages than the eleven who wasted their time by turning up at Headingly .............

  • Comment number 36.

    Coming into this Test the selectors (and captain) took the gamble to back the batting line-up to score enough runs. That was the mistake. The biggest risk was always going to be batting first, having a collapse and having to chase the match. Our best bat - Pietersen - already gone, Flintoff (top scorer at Edgbaston) also out, Bopara far too flakey as a number 3 and with no confidence, Bell parachuted in despite his overall poor Aussie record. It was clear there was no strength in depth in the batting. One quick wicket and the pressure proved too much as the dominoes fell.

    The media - and fans - have called for England to be more confident and bullish. But coming into this match, with the thin, weakened and fragile line-up we had was asking for the nighmare scenario we saw unfold. It was over-confidence, an ill-judged gamble that didn't pay off with the match lost by 2.30pm on Day 1. Sure, you need to take 20 wickets to win a Test but you also need to score some runs. Were we ever going to score enough runs with that line-up? What's the point in 5 bowlers if they've nothing to defend. The selectors have to look long and hard at the balance of the team at the Oval after this. Too much pressure on too few batsmen early in the game and it was all over.





  • Comment number 37.

    Lots of knee-jerk, what a surprise! It's not the end of the world, and Johnson was likely to come good at some stage, helped by Australia actually at long last picking their best bowler in English conditions (Clark). This match is clearly lost, the issue is what needs to be done to give England a sniff of a chance at the Oval. I would say it's as simple as this - DROP THE LOSERS! Forget Flintoff - he's knackered and teams don't win when he plays (except for Lords, of course!). Bell isn't a winner - drop him. Harmison is only interested in Durham and his kids - drop him. Bopara isn't up to snuff at no 3 - drop him. Colly hasn't had a great game, but I wouldn't lose him - yet. I would put Carberry in at no 3 - can he do any worse than Bopara? At least he is scoring serious runs for a Div 1 county. And Trott should be given a trot at no 4. As to the bowlers, give a game at the Oval to Steve Kirby, who has been impressive this season and should enjoy the pitch. Anderson has had a bad game, but should be retained, and Broad is difficult to drop at present - but maybe tomorrow he'll cement his place by doing a Jason Gillespie and get a maiden double ton!

  • Comment number 38.

    One bad test and everyone is so mad at the team. I believe it is the selecots fault. Bopara is a hopeless no. 3, key is the man, opens for kent and has experience. Also the recall of Bell was stupid, the aussies know how to get him out. This trott guy should play. Also harmison was a GOOD decision but he just hasnt bowled that well. The team for the next test:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Key
    Trott
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Harmison (As Anderson is injured)but tell him to pitch it up
    Onions

  • Comment number 39.

    "There is no point pressing the panic button and changing the whole team"

    I'd agree - we should keep most of the bowlers, the captain and the wicketkeeper.

    And I agree with the comment from Jamaica, the commentators are wrong to keep insulting the West Indies.

  • Comment number 40.

    As I don't follow the county scene much I can not offer replacements for the Oval. Quite probably it would be wrong to make too many changes for the Oval as well. Saying that the return of Bell was a mistake, I keep hearing he has a fine technique but watch him provide catching pratice for the slips. Bhopra really never should be the number 3. That place has to be for a proven batter, he's young, quite good but to come in a 2 for 1 or 200 for 1 requires a mature mentality. Michael Vaughan was the best choice for that, but those days are gone.

    Hope over belief is our last chance. The Aussies don't let go when they have bitten into their victim, and at least they will retain the Ashes, if not win outright. They can hold the line and we can't simple really.

  • Comment number 41.

    35. At 11:06pm on 08 Aug 2009, fatherpete

    Maybe if Brian Blessed opened we could convince the Aussies that W.G. is still alive...

    These reactions are only knee jerk because of the pre tour hype. Aussies a shadow of former selves etc., everybody forgetting they had just beaten S.A. in a Test series away from home. Just compare the batting averages of the top orders. We are now pinning all our hopes on one of our only two world class players who will have to be drugged up to the eyeballs to make the match. What a shambles.

  • Comment number 42.

    Im not really a fan of cricket, but living in Australia at the moment, i can't avoid it. The problem of producing good cricketers, from my point of view, is one of accesibility. My school in england was considered a particularly good one for sports, but its heritage was in the public school ethos and this is where the problem started i.e. hey made playing the game a pain in the backside. For one, if you wanted to try out for the team, you had to come back at 6pm to the school and they would assess how good you are. Two problems, firstly this was aimed at boys of 12, who at the age of 12 wants to go back into school at 6pm?? Secondly it was a try out for a team! Wheres the fun in being assessed for a team?? We had a wednesday afternoon devoted to games, yet not once did they think to set up the gear and just let us have a go for an afternoon. Who knows, there may have been kids who may not have been noticed, but had some talent. Even worse, we might have just enjoyed playing with no pressure! Consequently the net we pick from is tiny, and any kids who may have been any good are let slip.

    Aussies let everyone have a go, and its a game. Kids are told to enjoy, it doesnt matter if you are good or not, but they keep an eye out for the ones with potential.

    We seem to just let the ones who 'look' good straight away have a go and then assume they will be ok to play test cricket (bopara).

  • Comment number 43.

    i think we shud drop bopara, bell and collingwood there finished and bring in key, trott and ramparkash and i also think we shud drop harmison and swann in the bowling department and recall panesar 2 replace swann and hopefully flintoff will be fit and i cant see the point of keeping anderson in the side if it doesent swing then "the king of swing lol" cant bowl for love nor money and possibly replace him with sidebottom as for broad and onions id keep em in the team as theyv been ar8t for us so far.

  • Comment number 44.

    All this kneejerking. There is this test still to be won and lost and then we have the Oval. Lots more can and will happen, neither of these teams appears capable of going at it two tests in a row.

  • Comment number 45.

    Certainly don't expect to be there after lunch tomorrow. At least it'll save me spending a fiver on a steak sandwich.

    There will be the obvious call for wholesale changes but i'd resist against the temptation. Bopara and Bell would appear the most vulnerable, but who says that bringing in the likes of Trott would be the answer. At least Bopara and Bell have shown they can make centuries at this level, with Trott you are still in the unknown.

    Personally I'd bring in Key who has at least shown he can get runs at test level, in place of Bopara, but other than that with the obvious addition of Freddie, I wouldn't make any other further changes to the batting unit.

    Basically it's just a case of the players performing, something they haven't done in the last two days.

  • Comment number 46.

    I remember someone (probably Warne) saying Bopara would fail before the series started. Scoring centuries against the Indies cannot be the selection criteria for number 3 against the Aussies. He just does not look like he is going to score runs. Bopara is overrated. I'd say dropping Bell in WI for Bopara was a mistake. I am not saying Bell is a better replacement than Bopara, but had he played the full series in WI, I would say he would be a better prepared for this series. I am not saying Bopara does not have a future for England. But he does not look like he is ready for big time and has just hasn't proven himself.

    Strauss
    Cook
    Key or may be injured Pietersen with a runner
    Trott, (I hope he can covert his first class forms against the aussies. But I don't see any other option. Actually, I have a good feeling about him)
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Harmison
    Onions

  • Comment number 47.

    "35. At 11:06pm on 08 Aug 2009, fatherpete wrote:
    A very depressing days cricket ...............

    My team for the oval would be

    G.Boycott
    M.Atherton
    D.Gower
    G.Thorpe
    D.Randle
    I.Botham
    A.Knott
    D.Malcolm
    J.Snow
    D.Underwood
    R.Willis

    As far as I'm aware all of the above are still alive (which is more than our chances of regaining the ashes are) and they couldn't perform any worse at their respective ages than the eleven who wasted their time by turning up at Headingley ............." laments Fatherpete.

    You know, Pete,

    You have unearthed a fascinating idea, mate.

    Perhaps the time has come for the world to have a Seniors Tournament where the greats of the past play a three-day Test to see what the can still do in the middle. That would be a ticket-seller...no question...damn... time for the power that be to induce some colour and excitement for the fans!

    Hell, I'm currently organising one such event to be held on Aug. 22/23 featuring some of the stars of the past, and it's going well!

    Cheers.

  • Comment number 48.

    Ravi Bopara? Need I say more?

  • Comment number 49.

    In response to the last post, I also agree that it is a good idea, but I think Devon Malcolm is batting far too high at 8!

  • Comment number 50.

    As an Australian it is always amusing to watch the dramatic swing in opinions toward all of your sports teams. One minute they are heroes, the next the greatest disgrace ever - see Beckham, Rooney, Harmison etc etc etc, the cricket team, the football team. After England won their last home series the boys were all honoured by the Queen ("world-class heroes"). The result could have gone either way, but there was this massive overreaction. You were then thrashed in the next series ("a disgrace"). This time around rain saved you in the first test (v a side shorn of Lee and a not ready S Clark). You deservedly took the lead and were hailed all-time greats ("heroes") and average players like Anderson and Flintoff were deified as if they were Botham. Now (as expected) the pendulum has swung, and judging from the above comments the fans and media have turned again ("a disgrace"). "Sack them all" "no passion for the badge" "not worthy of their contracts". These comments could easily apply to the football team when they perform to their ability, as opposed to the overblown public expectations. Build them up - when they fail to reach these ridiculous expectations shoot them down and destroy their confidence. A cyclical phenomenon that I have watched in English sport for 20 years. Where is the middle ground. England are currently an average side playing against an opponent who are in reality are slightly better. The solution offered by the fans/media? The usual really. Drop most of them. Replace them with either a)Foreign born players?? b)previously tried and miserably failed performers eg Key, Ramprakash, Shah etc. Ramprakash??? The Australians destroyed him multiple times in last 10 years ago and would easily do so again. Reality check - your boys are human, ok at what they do, but no better. Less kneejerk reactions please.

  • Comment number 51.

    To whoever stood near the Australian team bus before day 5 at Edgbaston with the sign that said :"Thanks for the Ashes Mitchell" a most sincere THANKYOU. Evidently that fired him up more than anything Ricky or the coaching staff could say to him. Oh and keep booing our Captain ... it will give him more incentive to whack balls into the crowd on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 52.

    salvador_sanchez get a life mate Ramprakash destroyed by the aussies multiple times go home do your homework, Ramps is top draw against the aussies averaging a shade over 45.00, he should be in the england team now!

  • Comment number 53.

    Well what can I say!, I'm angry, sad, humiliated,frustrated, confused, dismayed, dejected, I'm struggling to type here...........England terrible, how you can put three days of dross of that quality together is staggering.........there is still huge faults lying with the selectors at the top of the pile, it need to stop being the 'old boys club' and get some realisim injected into it fast.

  • Comment number 54.

    salvador_sanchez sorry yu have annoyed me to the piont of commenting again about Ramprakash he's immense do your homework about a player before slagging him off.

  • Comment number 55.

    Test cricket is about mental toughness. Collingwood for example does not have the greatest of techniques but has averaged nearly 50 in the last year. Ken Barrington was immovable and averaged 58.
    England need to pick players with mental toughness.
    Harmison has repeatedly shown at test level that he has mental frailties, Bell too. Bopara does not seem interested. Apparently he did not even watch the Ashes in 2005 as he considered test cricket boring!
    You don't pick players like that.

    Key seems to have a tough mentality, Joyce deserves a crack at tests.
    Even give Denly, Trott, Moore a go.
    Sidebottom or Hoggard should come in for the bowling.
    Or Mark Davies of Durham.
    With KP and Freddie fit England have a decent team on paper.

    I don't know what it is about England but collapses have bene happening for decades and needs to be looked at. I remember Richard Hadlee bowling England out for something like 92 & 93 in 1983/84.
    Then we have had 46 and 51 in the Caribbean. A miserable 110 in NZ a few years back etc.
    Australia, S Africa, India etc do not collapse like this.

    If it is any consolation England collapsed at Lord's in 2005 in the second innings and won the next test. I think test cricket now moves at such a fast pace that batting for more than 120-150 overs is a lost art.
    Once a team gets on top like this-the players just seem to switch off and conserve for the next game.

  • Comment number 56.

    Groundhog Day. English fans and media go off half-cocked ("Thanks for the Ashes Mitchell"), writing Australia off before the result is sure which serves only as a source of motivation to the Aussies, regardless of the perceived strength of their squad (proves attitude can trump "talent"). This has been going on since Mark Taylor's 1989 team tour of England.

    I got moved from England to Australia as a child, nearly 30 years ago. Have remained a loyal fan of England and often thought I should have tried to get a job as a mind coach for the England side. The mantra is pretty simple. Keep your mouth shut and do your job. I can't believe that the England team put any effort into how to play Australia psychlogically. Get sustained results before you give a bit of lip.

    As for the rubbish that comes out of the nominated team member to face the media at the end of each day, what's with that? Who tells them to do that? "Playing for pride"??? That should have been the pre-game mindset and not when the team is certain to lose badly. Broad, Prior, Swann...shut up and have enough pride to not patronise us. They just sound so stupid when they talk the game up and have been bowled out for 102 and then 5 for 80-something. It's insulting. Maybe they're trying to convince themselves. Goodness knows. Get's my back up. They should say they've been outplayed and even thought the situation is dire, they won't give up until the last ball of the match.

    Lastly, around we go again with Bopara, Bell, etc. Bopara's got the worst body language and obviously doesn't want to be there. As for Bell and his blonde highlights and snickering face, just go away and if the useless selectors every call you again, have enough intestinal fortitude to say "thanks but no thanks".

    When we first started getting thrashed back in '89, I used to try and convince myself that the humiliating thrashings would mobilise the selectors and the team management to make the necessary changes to the structure and personnel of the England team to be at least competitive, if not successful. In 2005 I thought "better late than never". Only for the 5-0 response from Australia in the subsequent series. Seems we taste success and then live on that until we get stung into action or bury our heads in the ground.

    Is anyone hearing me?????? Hello...ello...llo...lo...o!

    Thanks for reading. It helps when I talk and this blog is a lot cheaper than professional therapy.

  • Comment number 57.

    Salvador-Sanchez

    I agree with you but most people are the same regardless of country. The 24/7 media stirs it up. I think it was Rodney Hogg and Dean Jones who ridiculed this Australian team a few weeks ago.
    Having lived in Germany I have seen the media and the German public react the same to the German national soccer team.

    Ask most English fans in May-would they like to go into the 5th test at 1-1 against the #1 team in the world-most would say yes!

  • Comment number 58.

    Also-one moot point. If it stays 1-1 Australia will retain the Ashes.

    You can guarantee that Ponting will win the toss at the Oval and will bat. He will make sure himself that the Aussies will score 400 or 500 hundred and that will be that.

    England have missed out on a great chance of winning back the Urn. The Australian openers have been questionable, Ponting at times looks tired, Huseey is still out of form, Johnson was rubbish for the first three tests, ditto Siddle-they lack a threatening spinner, Haddin missed one test and Hilfenhaus is an average test bowler. Nothing special-all this and England still cannot win.

    India and SA would have the series sown up by now if they played England.

  • Comment number 59.


    I think Strauss has been blinded by an aura.

  • Comment number 60.

    half way through edgbaston i said fire otis gibson as it was obvious we were bowling to a pre-determined plan regardless of conditions. for at least 3 out of the 4 test. holding, warne and botham (surely with some weight in the skills of bowlig) have criticised the short, out of line and inconsistent bowling from all of our guys -- with factual analysis plots. fire the bowling coach and get them bowling line and length with the odd short ball. i warned that harmison was the wrong choice. great for broad, but he should not have been playing either. it was obvious bopara was not a #3 and bell's 50 flattered to deceive. thus the whole structure of the team was a house of cards and when flintoff buckled, so did the resolve of the whole team. strauss needs to take a stronger role in leading the team mentally and stop telling the bowlers to drop it short.

    find a #3 (key, denley -- maybe hildreth from somerset) to replace bopara and drop bell for trott. flintoff in for harmisson and bring in a spinner at the oval for broad (although the selectors will never drop him now, but he too flattered to deceive -- just compare his 6 for 91 versus insipid siddle.s 5-21).

    A balanced attack -- 3 quickies (bowling line and length, we can come good) and two spinners -- is needed for a must win game.

    strauss and cook should come back with runs, key (or a specialist) at #3, trott at 4, colly stays at 5 because he has good attitude and will come good if we have more than a 100 on the board before he's called upon, prior (a fighter), flintoff, swann, anderson and onions (with dire threats if they drop it short) and monty (because no one else has a better claim -- unfortunately).

    However, i expect the selectors to continue to ignore the structural flaws and the ashes will likely not be coming home this year.

  • Comment number 61.

    salvador_sanchez. Could not agree with you more. As an Aussie who lived in England, I found the English reaction to sporting vicissitudes was risible.
    A key difference between the attitudes of the two countries is that when Australia lose, their supporters' inital reaction is not to label them useless and call for their firing.
    When Australia lost at Lords there was disappointment, but an understanding that this Aussie team is partly rebuilding and that even the best teams can lose a Test.
    Serioius sporting nations like Australia treat victory as another desirable milestone, not a ticker-tape festooned end-state. Likewise, losses are an occupational hazard and not always a blot on the national escutcheon.
    To think it was an Englishman who penned those lines about meeting with triumph and disaster and treating those two imposters just the same!

  • Comment number 62.

    I think pointing should have declared before lunch time, and have england chasing a totol around 200. So we can have this test match finished in two days... is it a record ?..

  • Comment number 63.

    Highside720 (#54) are you serious? Ramprakash is "immense"?

    The guy averages 27 in tests (45 is considered par for a test player these days) and against Australia he averages a 42 which is not exactly intimidating.

    Why recall a has-been?

  • Comment number 64.

    I feel England lost this test at the selection table. Aussies made 450 and Onions was underbowled.
    My england 11 for the oval.

    Strauss
    Cook
    someone to bat three
    Bell
    Collingwood
    Bopara
    Prior
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson
    Onions.
    That looks to be the best the poms have got.

  • Comment number 65.

    Bopara is truly abysmal. In seven innings he has amassed a grand total of 105 runs hardly world class, why do the selectors persist with him ?

  • Comment number 66.

    Looking forward to Tom's player ratings this time around. Any English players beyond a 3?

    One further bright spot for Australia is that with Broad's 6-for, the English selectors will keep him in the side.

  • Comment number 67.

    England hav had 1 100 in 47 innings(real batsmen)
    Australia hav had 7 100's in 37 innings(real batsmen)

    England bowling averages
    Player Mat Inns Runs Wkts BBI Ave Econ
    G Onions 3* 5 303 10 4/58 30.30 3.90
    SCJ Broad 4* 6 436 12 6/91 36.33 3.62
    JM Anderson 4* 6 467 12 5/80 38.91 3.40
    A Flintoff 3 5 340 7 5/92 48.57 3.26
    SJ Harmison 1* 1 98 2 2/98 49.00 4.26
    GP Swann 4* 6 409 6 4/87 68.16 3.52

    Australia bowling averages
    Player Mat Inns Runs Wkts BBI Ave Econ
    SR Clark 1* 2 35 3 3/18 11.66 2.33
    BW Hilfenhaus 4* 7 452 16 4/103 28.25 3.22
    PM Siddle 4* 7 426 15 5/21 28.40 3.62
    NM Hauritz 3 5 321 10 3/63 32.10 3.10
    G Johnson 4* 7 474 14 3/21 33.85 3.92

    Michael Clarke or Hilfenhaus would probably be main candidates for the Player of the series. I could watch Clarke bat all day at the minute. He's got 83, 1, 136, 29, 103*, 93. He shows how to cash in on good form. Unlike Prior who is in 'good' form when he continues to get 40s & 50s.
    All the stats suggest Australia should be killing England and as an England fan i believe Bopara is an absolute joke. Sadly Warne was totally right and he was incapable of playing 3 caus he was too loose. Bopara should learn from Watson and be totally committed to his defensive stroke and i understand he is lacking confidence but please learn from mistake and don't defend of back foot to a full ball. Bopara will be the new 'Sherminator' when he comes to Australia, if he makes it that long. Perhaps bring in Carberry or Key or Moore (Who did get a century, albeit in a warm-up, against Australia.)
    England should maybe hav even declared to give themselves more time to like their wounds from this embarrasment. A team for the Oval would probably be:

    Strauss
    Cook
    Any of 3 above
    Bell
    Collingwood
    Prior
    Flintoff
    Broad
    Swann
    Anderson (Sidebottom if not fit)
    Onions

    I would love to make wholesale changes but that would probably make it worse. But maybe all is not lost. Prior big century and a few haffers from Broad, Swann and Anderson. Leave the Aussies chasing 87 to win. Then Harmy and Swann run thru Australia like Willis. If only Australia were playing like England.
    By the way regarding one of the above statments Australia are a better team than SA and definitely better than India. If Aussies had Lee totally fit this series it would probably be 2-0 at the min.
    Also don't fear for the future of test cricket. Bangladesh are improving slightly and hopefully Ireland will be a test plaing nation soon so you never know. The only test cricket i fear for is English test cricket. The only series we hav won in the last three years are Windies at home(2), PAK at home, NZ away and NZ at home. Which means that they have lost to AUS away, IND at home, IND away, SA at home, SRI away, WI away and now possibly AUS. This should be pretty worrying for the ECB.

  • Comment number 68.

    Australia well on top but can England slow this match down in the same way they did in the 1st Ashes test- not likely but don't put anything past them!

  • Comment number 69.

    @ #68: "can England slow this match down"

    Not for three days, with five wickets in hand. Although, if they can just scrape past the follow-on total then they might...oh wait, that's not going to work.
    ;)

  • Comment number 70.

    On the positive side, at least everyone can blame everything on the absence of Flintoff... although personally, I don't think that would have caused any difference to the outcome.

  • Comment number 71.

    Aussies first;
    After the Cardiff Test when Ponting assiduously kept blocking Stuart Clark's entry into the playing eleven I entertained a fleeting suspicion that perhaps the captain had a chip on his shoulder about Clark's inclusion. Now I see he held him back as a surprise weapon; bowling, and to my surprise, batting!
    The notorious notion being bandied around that the current team was one of the weakest to come out of Australia should have been thoroughly laid to rest I believe.

    England;
    The result is still in contention but all comments that follow make the painful assumption that it will be 1-1, sooner or later. May not be so.

    No bemoaning the poor decisions; England is still far from being in the red in this respect.

    Despite the magnitude of loss it still counts as only one Test lost.

    As Dhoni said it before facing WI, after losing the T20, 'there is no such thing as momentum, we start afresh'. If momentum was such a big thing, what do you say to the pendulum having a field day here? So regardless, all other things being equal England will have as much chance of winning at the Oval as of losing.

    Bopara and Bell need to be dropped. The two only served to amuse a proliferation of pun lovers, aplenty on the boards. Possibly Colly too, but one could give him the benefit of some ephemeral doubt. That is all the changes on the batting front. I will not comment on who comes in. I would rather leave that to better qualified talent spotters. All I know is that there is 15 years or more gap in the ages of replacements being suggested. No big deal that.
    Bowling; Harmy vacates for Flinty in case the latter is passed fit. If not he vacates for Sidebottom. Product returned to suppliers as 'incompatible with the system'.

    So in all, three changes are unavoidable; possibly four, with Colly having surprisingly gatecrashed into the list for exit.

    I wonder if I'll find any support in my hare-brained proposal to swap Swanny for Monty, as the latter just might give a bit extra as a radically different spinner. I choose not to press it, though. Let him come in only if two spinners are chosen.

  • Comment number 72.

    I'd like to thank the groundsman for producing a great pitch. I love seeing the batsman jumping around to the short pitched stuff and gloving a few!!

  • Comment number 73.

    So - are all the media pleased with thier efforts to get Harmison back in to the test side? Writing up his performances in county cricket as if he was some world beater that England had waiting in the wings looked absurd at the time and now it just looks like plain bad journalism. If you are too lazy to write some proper articles then don't write anything at all. Harmison cannot cut it at test leval, its as simple as that.

    Rant over, the fault in this match lies mainly with the batsman in the 1st innings, I was a fan of Bopara at 3 but he seems to be a weak link in the same way Hughes was for the aussies, the difference is they identified the problem before it was too late and took him out of the firing line. Incidently I'm sure Hughes will come again and fulfill all the hype around him. Alternatives to our top 5 are the real problem, Rob Key? Oh Joy!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Highside720. Ramaprakash "immense", with an overall average of 27 (if Brillianttest's facts are correct)? Surely there are some non-South African, good young English players coming through? Young Phil Hughes will get back into the team in the future, but Australia traditionally don't wheel out ageing,tried and failed players, particularly those like 39 y.o Ramprakash (52 tests, ave 27)and Key 30 y.o (15 tests, ave 31)time and time again. How many more times can Ian Bell be placed on the scarificial alter?

  • Comment number 75.

    Sorry that should be sacrificial.

  • Comment number 76.

    Considerable anger being expressed here. All I would say is that teams are never quite as bad as their worst performances would suggest, just as they're never quite as good as their very best. Everyone has stinkers too, no matter what they do, so the Horrors of Headingley don't necessarily mean than everything is suddenly wrong with English cricket. It's less than a month since England won at Lord's for the first time in over 70 years. At the same time, the manner and size of this defeat is clearly painful in the extreme. Who thinks that England actually have a chance of winning at The Oval?

  • Comment number 77.

    what a pathetic,gutless display by the finest english cricket has to offer. the only thing to do know is to give the original ashes urn to the aussies for good & quit the test arena & for gods sake do not send anymore teams down to oz.we are sick of mediocre teams of any code coming out here,getting their arses kicked & then saying we'll learn from this.

  • Comment number 78.

    I would say normal service has been resumed. We are a sporting joke in this country, we can only talk a good game.

  • Comment number 79.

    @ salvador_sanchez wrote:
    Build them up - when they fail to reach these ridiculous expectations shoot them down and destroy their confidence.

    The Australians destroyed him multiple times in last 10 years ago and would easily do so again. Reality check - your boys are human, ok at what they do, but no better. Less kneejerk reactions please.

    --------
    No, no, no! This is rubbish. The reason people are on the team's back is beacuse of the manner of the performance, not because we are facing defeat. This country's glory is firmly placed in the maxim 'stif upper lip' and our best traits come out when we are up against it. What we see in our sportsmen is capitulation, folding like a deck of card at the slightest pressure. We want backbone and fight yet players these days seem to concentrate on personal appearance rather than fighting for their country's sporting honour. It is British nature to fight when our backs are against the wall not just to crumble.

    After this performance the team deserves all the stick they get. The team's batting and bowling (Broad apart) was no short of disgraceful. 102 all aout is around the 20th lowest score ever, so this is not a knee jerk reaction but a reflection on how poor the team have played.

    People in glass houses springs to mind. Your own media and people back in Oz have been givin your team a hard time this series so think again.

  • Comment number 80.

    Should strauss be in side,poor,bopara a joker.colinwood up and down,what the hell bell doing in side.cook why is he in side.harmison get back in netts.can any one explaind????

  • Comment number 81.

    @ 76. Tom Fordyce - BBC Sport wrote:
    Considerable anger being expressed here. All I would say is that teams are never quite as bad as their worst performances would suggest, just as they're never quite as good as their very best. Everyone has stinkers too, no matter what they do, so the Horrors of Headingley don't necessarily mean than everything is suddenly wrong with English cricket.
    ----

    Wrong. This defeat epitomises excatly what is wrong with our game - the selectors, players attitudes and county cricket.

    It's the manner of capitulation, techniques falling apart to mere straight deliveries, the inability to bowl line and length - a microcosm of what county cricket breads.

    We have teams made up of journeymen (because there is little encouragement nobody can break into the England team - the cosey club, the recall men) and weak overseas foriegn players who deprive yongsters from coming through the ranks; too many matches and teams, and the counties resistance to any sort of radical re-organisation.

    The selectors - so many opinions on 606 that choosing Bell and Harmison was a retrograde step, and they've be proven correct. How many chances do we afford players to step up to the mark? Not 50 tests, that's for sure. Why do we continue to reward failure? We need a forward thinking panel who look beyond the 'he's got natural talent and is one for the future' and pick players from the here and now. From unfashionable counties who maybe aren't the most naturally gifted, but can damn well fight for the cause.

    Eevryone has stinkers - yes, and a lot of people are sacked when they do, recieve a warning or at least a stern rollocking.

    Our reaction is not knee-jerk. We simply want the dead wood out and others given a chance. A new look England, to wave bye-bye to the failures, the cosey club, the nearly men. We want fighters.

  • Comment number 82.

    As an Australian living in London, this series is something I've been looking forward to. I moved over in 2005 and was surprised by the hype that surrounded that series, it's The Ashes I'll always remember. It was dramatic, close and really enjoyable. Of course, I was mocked at work for months by old men who hadn't tasted Ashes victory for years.
    These same people claimed that they didn't watch cricket during the next series..

    It still surprises me how quickly an English cricket fan turns into a doomsayer once their team has an off day. This is not the death of English cricket. Sure, it's disappointing to see your team capiutulate but I have to sit there and watch Ponting try to make an intelligent tactical decision whenever he gets on the field. THAT'S frustrating.

    This time around is again building towards a great finale. England have had a slump here, but at least they will now have to play for the win at The Oval.

  • Comment number 83.

    There seems some considerable venom re recalling Ramprakash.

    A stint on Strictly Come Dancing seems to have done his footwork a world of good as he is top of the first class batting averages by a long way. He seems to have been at the top or close to it for the last two or three years.

    If he is rubbish then it just goes to show how abject the rest of the other options are.

    One final point post 35 et al. Devon Malcolm batting at 8 just must be having a laugh!

    I would have Andy Caddick instead of Malcolm, maybe even instead of some of the current bowlers at the Oval. It's rather difficult to make 500 if the bowler at one end is as tight and accurate as Caddick was and probably still is.

    I know he is retiring at season end but if the last two days are anything to go by the concept of line and length seems to be alien to most of the England fast bowlers.

  • Comment number 84.

    Pay the players win bonuses only, nothing for a defeat.

    Then, just maybe, they might play as though they care....

  • Comment number 85.

    Post 81. Hear hear. How many times do we have to bring back mates who have failed? Ever fancied becoming a selector?

    Central contracts have

    1) Ensured complacency in those that have them.

    2) Ensured that centrally contracted players don't get a run in first class cricket to regain form if they lose it.

    3) Act to stop new players coming in. Anyone else see the story about Onions and having his pay brought up a bit after Edgbaston and not having a nice flash sponsored car like the rest of them. That must really help his confidence!

    What is the point of the Academy and the so called "A" team if you don't use them to blood players to come in if there are injuries?

    Everytime Freddie or Pietersen get injured the selectors run around like headless chickens.

  • Comment number 86.

    to be honest, how many of you actually though England had a chance of winning the ashes????

  • Comment number 87.

    76. Tom Fordyce

    Thanks for the response.

    Good teams do not make a habit of folding - 51 vs WI, now this.
    With the top sides there's usually one or two who can stick around in a crisis but it seems with England a collective panic always sets in.

    Apart from the selection debates (Why Harmison instead of Sidebottom on Headingley?) there are still serious technique issues with most of the players, bat and ball. Some are not just fine tuning, they are fundamentals. I won't get into them here but until you sort those out the problems will continue.

  • Comment number 88.

    Harmison should resign right after this game,as there is a real bleak chance of him not in the team for next match....

  • Comment number 89.

    I think post #42 makes a valid point about the underlying problems of English cricket and many other sports in this country. Competition is put ahead of fun, exclusivity over inclusivity and too much prevalence given to the notion of tradition.

    Cricket in England is still largely a middle-class sport, made expensive and inaccesible to many. Tennis suffers from a similar antiquated set-up. This has been well illustrated in this series by the distaste at the "new breed of fan" and lamenting of the "tawdry" 20-20. Heaven forbid we should try and broaden the appeal and widen our potential pool of talent.

    I'm speaking from assumption when I say that Australia doesn't seem to suffer any of the same problems.

    Maybe it's an inevitable consequence of having a society with such a class-based history but until we truly open it up to all and make it, first and foremost, about enjoyment then it's unlikely we'll be able to consistently match the best teams in the world.

  • Comment number 90.

    82. LoFiGuy

    Please consider that the majority of posts aren't necessarily just in response to THIS test match. Apart from the delirium of 2005 (and I don't apologise for that euphoria after such a lean trot prior), the past 20 years have contained many innings defeats, series whitewashes, false dawns, etc.

    Interestingly, England often (not always) seem to manage one heroic test match win, even in a losing series...and we all cling on to it as a sign of hope for the future!!!

    So, speaking personally, this test match just brings up the same old feelings of frustration and anger. I just wish the Internet was mainstream 20 years ago as I'm finding this very cathartic. Much better than cowering in the light of a flickering television set in the early hours of Australian mornings.

    No, this isn't the death of English cricket. That happened a LONG time ago. We just had a spasm in the corpse back in '05. Seems the doctors are too scared to operate on the patient.

    This is how bad it is...I fear an England victory at The Oval because that status quo would be rewarded.

  • Comment number 91.

    If the Australians had responded to their Lords defeat with the same level of panic being illustrated by many posts here, precious few of the tourists' Headingley team would even be playing.

    Get real, and keep it real.

    This has been a poor match for England, and shows the need to pick individual players of ability rather than sticking with a 'team' which had muddled through in the past.

  • Comment number 92.

    The complacent lax attitude of these "comfort zone" cricketers will always be revealed by working class "fire in the belly" Aussies, they have the killer instinct, they almost hate you, there lies the massive difference.

  • Comment number 93.

    42. sensationaltorres
    89. HamiltonRicard

    The problem does start at the schools. My son goes to a good grammar with a proud sporting record and even there the infrastructure does not compare with that of the Aussie and South African schools, where everyone participates.. six, seven or more league teams for each age group. Here only a select few get top coaching, the pick of the grammar and independent schools. And I'm not sure that they get the same intensity at schools here either, like practising fielding and catching 'till your fingers bleed.

  • Comment number 94.

    Pathetic, negative, miserable, fickle ... take your pick.

    No not the cricket but most of the bloggers on here. Yes, we've had a terribly poor game but it'll be 1-1 going into the last match. Win that, and we can, and you'll all be back on the bandwagon. Don't bother.

  • Comment number 95.

    One of the worst things about being an England supporter (in pretty much any sport, anyone hear what a rubbish driver Lewis Hamilton is at the start of this F1 season?) is the hindsight-driven kneejerk shortsightedness. Yes, we have been thoroughly humiliated this time out and yes, Australia have proven themselves a better side this series and longer-term but no, we are not the sub-Zimbabwe always-lucky spawn of Beelzebub. It is rubbish to talk of bringing in Ramprakash (good at county level but a proven failure at Test level), Trescothick (has already said he isn't mentally capable so certainly wouldn't cope with an Ashes Final) or Pietersen (what better psychological present could the Aussies ask than us bringing back two openly crocked players?)

    For the Oval, Bopara should be got rid of (for Key) as should Harmison (for Flintoff, if sufficiently fit or Sidebottom) but keep the rest of this team and give them the (unusual) luxury of a bit of support and faith without the players having to beat it out of us, kicking and screaming.

  • Comment number 96.

    English cricket is so sad now it will die. Its too expensive Bring on global warming so there is so much rain we do not have to tollerate this rubbish any longer.England should be ashamed. Sack them all including the coach captain and selectors. A lot of people are not going to the oval thats a fact.

  • Comment number 97.

    You obviously wrote this before Broad and Swann got stuck in. This is still a very ordinary Australia team. Our bowlers weren't so bad. If your batsmen had only scored 100 runs, you'd be a bit dispirited as a bowler. Also, Anderson was obviously carrying an injury. The middle order batting is weakened mainly by the loss of Pietersen and Flintoff - how would it not be? Bopara should not play at the Oval and neither should Bell. Calls for Ramprakash are silly, but Trott is in the squad and we don't know about Fred yet. Much of the momentum of the Aussies has been dampened by the batting of the England tail. Ponting was furious and I suspect Clark will be dropped for the Oval, his confidence wrecked. Also, Hussey should go, but any England supporter will want him to play. I sort of support England, but I wanted them to lose this one to make the Oval match meaningful. I'm still fairly confident England will win the Ashes, weather permitting. The main question should be; will England go into the Oval Test with two spinners - drop Onions for Monty?

  • Comment number 98.

    No I am sorry English cricket is dead in the water for a lot of people now. The fact is if people like Pieterson and Flintoff can not admit they are so unfit before the series started or the captain and selectors are too scared of the players to do their job English cricket is dead

  • Comment number 99.

    Well, I wondered when England would give up the fight for the Ashes and I think they just did, being deservedly thrashed by a much better team. England have only played well consistently in one test match, which they won, and it is really only thanks to the wonderful rearguard action by Collingwood, Anderson and Panesar in the first test that they have not already lost the Ashes to a superior Aussie team. Frankly I cannot see England reacting as well at the Oval as the Aussies have at Headingley, and, if so probably only enough to draw the match and the series. Either way, they are going to have to improve their batting and bowling 100% to fight back, and therefore at least Bopara and Harmison have to be replaced, the latter hopefully by a fit Flintoff. Good luck England, you're going to need it!

  • Comment number 100.

    Yours truly was invited today to umpire a cricket match at an exclusive private country club of former stars and was partnered with one of the best who recently retired.

    Caviar, fine wine and such were on tap.

    The game was played in a gentlemanly manner, a rare thing nowadays, sadly. All had a blast.

    Interestingly, everyone who nicked the ball, walked, even when they were likely to have been given the benefit … it was truly an exhilarating experience!

    It is indeed melancholy that this spirit is so lost in the new age.

 

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