BBC BLOGS - Tom Fordyce

Archives for January 2009

Harmison looks to recapture past glories

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Tom Fordyce | 14:17 UK time, Thursday, 22 January 2009

Another series, another last chance for Steve Harmison.

It's the sub-plot that just won't go away. No matter how things change in the overall tale of the England cricket team, the Harmison story remains stubbornly the same: will this be the tour when he finally gets back to his best?

With the West Indies due up next, it's particularly pertinent this time around. It was in the Caribbean five years ago that Harmison hit his peak, bagging 23 wickets in the four Tests at 14 runs apiece, including that devastating spell of 7-12 as the Windies were blown away for just 47 at Sabina Park.

Harmison came back from that tour as the number-one ranked fast bowler in world cricket, the fiery figurehead of England's four-man pace attack, bearing comparisons to West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose.

When his team-mates talk about how dangerous a fit and happy Harmison can be, it's the 2004 version they hark back to.

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Hugely respected, much admired... but loved?

Tom Fordyce | 11:56 UK time, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

It should be a no-brainer. Matty Hayden was a great Test batsman, his numbers over his 15-year career putting him shoulder to muscular shoulder with the all-time elite.

He scored more Test runs than any other specialist Aussie opener (8,625), stands sixth in the list of top Test century scorers (above Bradman, Border and Sobers) and retired with an average of 50.73 (higher than Viv Richards, Denis Compton and Neil Harvey).

Yet while those other six men warmed the hearts of cricket fans whatever their national allegiance, Hayden seemed to leave everyone but Australians cold.

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Pietersen's gamble too far

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Tom Fordyce | 12:43 UK time, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Kevin Pietersen always has been a man to chance his arm.

Perhaps no-one should be surprised that someone who happily switch-hits one of the world's best spinners for six risked his job as England captain in a who-blinks-first contest with Peter Moores and the ECB.

This time, however, the gamble has not paid off. After a mere three Tests as England skipper, the reign of King KP appears to have come to a rapid end.

There's something terribly English about the whole sorry shaboodle. Just as the Australian team looks to be at its weakest in a quarter of a century, with a home Ashes series just around the corner and barely a ticket left for any of the five Tests, English cricket has taken careful aim and shot itself in both feet.

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