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Barbados body language

Martin Gough | 21:31 UK time, Thursday, 12 April 2007

Martin GoughBarbados - Apologies to those who clicked the headline expecting an examination on beach life around Bridgetown – this is all cricket.

A tour of Thursday’s news conferences provided an interesting insight into the approach and mental state of three sides, at the top, middle and bottom of the World Cup Super 8 table.

In the blue corner, appearing at the team hotel first thing in the morning, was a tired-looking Andrew Strauss, back in the England side for the last two games after being dropped at the start of the tournament.

Strauss in reflective moodWhen he stood in as captain last year, Strauss became known as a bit of a cliché merchant, and his assertion that it is time for England to “take the handbrake off” ticked that box. However, after several weeks in which England have insisted their struggles to comprehensively beat smaller sides have no bearing on their ability against bigger teams, a little more honesty has crept in.

Strauss admitted England were far below their best as they laboured hard for a four-wicket victory over Bangladesh.

“There is no hiding from the fact we haven’t fired as a unit. There have been some very good individual performances and partnerships, which are crucial to winning,” he said.

“But whenever we have done that we have allowed ourselves to get in a tough position again. We recognise it, we’re disappointed about it and we’re trying to fix it.”

The careworn look on the faces of many of England’s players is in contrast to their approach in the early stages of the World Cup, when they were flush with confidence from the one-day series win in Australia and clearly relaxed as a result.

Strauss admitted: “If we could beat South Africa next week there might be a slightly better feeling in the camp.”

In the baggy green corner, fresh from his last training session at the Kensington Oval before taking on Ireland, was Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting, who really looked on top form, taking questions with a smile.

His side struggled to recover from adversity during one-day series at home and then in New Zealand at the start of the year but are right back on track.

Rather than using the “potential banana skin” line that just about every other international captain has utilised before facing smaller nations, Ponting, whose side have already dealt ruthlessly with Scotland and the Netherlands during this tournament, was more forthright.

“If an opportunity arises to go in for the kill, win the game and win it, well then we’ll go for it,” he said.

“This is another opportunity for us to impose ourselves on this event and show everybody else how good a team we are and how much in order we’ve got our game at the moment.”

Australia had a session with British rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave on Tuesday, where they talked about dealing with the pressures of being favourites.

Throughout John Buchanan’s time as coach, they have looked outside the game for ideas and motivation in their quest to get better and better.

And in the other green corner was Ireland captain Trent Johnston, who has looked tired all tournament but continued to incite his side to energetic, challenging performances.

“If you’re not up for a game against Australia you shouldn’t be playing cricket,” said the Aussie-born bowler.

To beat the world champions, he admitted, “we will have to play our of our skins, probably 10 or 15% better than [in the group-stage win] against Pakistan.

“We’re going to give it our very best and if that’s not good enough, well, it’s Australia against Ireland, professional against amateur.”

No handbrakes, no banana skins, but no pressure of expectation either.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:31 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Stef.s wrote:

Can I just ask why the Aussies got as pep talk from Sir Steve, and the English didn't?

  • 2.
  • At 11:41 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

good luck ireland. i will be screamimg for you.

  • 3.
  • At 12:27 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Lorikeet wrote:

Well Stef.s, probably because the Aussies actually thought to ask Sir Steve, and the English didn't.

Anyway the talk was about dealing with the pressure of being favourites - not something the English have to worry about these days!

  • 4.
  • At 02:44 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Same old rubbish from the England camp. 'If we could beat South Africa next week there might be a slightly better feeling in the camp.' Why didn't he say ' If we don't beat South Africa next week, England will be out of the World Cup and players like me will not dare put their names forward for selection again.'

Everyone knows that it is harder to get dropped from any England team - cricket, soccer, rugby - than it is to get into it which is why England carted along to the World cup as their spare baggage, players who have failed to perform time and time again. Vaughan, Strauss and the others who are not performing consistently well would have been dumped from an Australian team long ago. They have had more than enough chances which they would never get elsewhere.

The odds are that whether or not England proceed to the final stages of this World Cup, one or other of the current crop of England failures will turn in a rare decent performance thus guaranteeing his place in the team for yet another season of what will doubtless turn out to be a summer of ups and downs for the England team. Mainly downs, unless Bermuda are the summer visitors.

Where is the ruthless streak in English cricket? Where are the selectors and coaches with the guts to give a host of new players a chance? And a limited chance, too. With ultimata given to any newcomer about what is expected of him if he is to keep his place in the team beyond a certain point.

Fail to reach a batting average of so much and you are out, with targets set for tail enders as well as recognised batsmen. Fail to take so many wickets at an average of so much ditto. Drop more than one soft catch ditto. Misbehave off the pitch and say goodbye.

This business of 'take the positives' when there are none to be taken. And the 'He needs one big score' syndrome. 'If we can beat South Africa next week, we'll feel a little better..' It's all starting to wear a bit thin for this England supporter.

Lots of new brooms, please.

  • 5.
  • At 03:09 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Mohamed (Breado) wrote:

Marty,
2 months in the Caribbean and you get paid for this. Okay, so watching England chase (if you can call it that) 143 was probably painful, but you are in the Caribbean man. How lucky can you get.

What do I have to do to get a gig like this?

I believe that England, West Indies were tired and New Zealand also looked tired today... like your title suggests; body language tells the story.

By the way, did you get your luggage?

Breado

  • 6.
  • At 06:23 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Tom Watson wrote:

In your story on Trent Johnston, you make an error in saying that he's from the same town as Mark Taylor. Tubs is from Wagga Wagga, not Wollongong.

  • 7.
  • At 06:25 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • thea of brisbane wrote:

Ireland, although acknowledging they have to play "out of their skins" against Aust ,know who they are in the cricket world. Having watched and read my way through the summer of the Ashes and following ODI's and now the World Cup, what really stumps me is what England's rhetoric tells us about how they see themselves.
Collingwood's statement of Bopara after ONE stand tall and fight innings was an extrordinary " he has so much talent it's frightening". We hear over and over "we have the talent....we're really a good team when we fire....next game we'll be better, we've learnt "...yadda yadda yadda. What planet do they play on? Flintoff in his last 2 games looked like he'd never picked up a bat ! Where do they get the idea they're a sleeping giant? I'm not questioning resolve/concentration/ fitness/diet/ adequate sleep and preparation. These people are just not good. They're slow,have poor throwing and catching techniques,poor reading of the game as it unfolds-they are just average with the occasional good game. That's ok...but someone needs to tell them ; stop reading and believing the press, get their county system worked out, chose talent that demonstrates good training/drinking and eating discipline, resolve to work harder with every success rather than writing a book, swallow reality pills every day, and stop talking...please stop talking .

  • 8.
  • At 06:43 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Charles wrote:

Stef.s re: your question

Can I just ask why the Aussies got as pep talk from Sir Steve, and the English didn't?

If you read the artilce, it explains that Steve Regrave was talking about dealing with the prerssure of being favouties. Can I point out that England are favourites for nothing - except of course the 'incompetents of the year' team award.

  • 9.
  • At 07:31 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Marcus Dubois wrote:

Great points Martin - where I think England are is falling between two schools of thought.

You have the Irish, who are aware of their limitations but have little expectations back home so are able to play the 'pride' card to the hilt. So if they give 100% in every game and play off adrenalin, then any side who are not up for it/focused/on their game (i.e. Pakistan) face trouble. The thrill of being the underdog has fashioned many a useful side in any sport.

On the other hand, Australia have all the weapons, depth in personnel, and quality to simply sit back and dominate - hence Ponting's continual quest to keep the boys razor-sharp and focused.

And so what of poor England? Well for us, I think the expectation simply drains the personnel. We can't play as 'plucky England' because of the status and quality of our domestic cricket arena. However we currently lack the depth in personnel to really kick on in a tournament - Freddie is off colour, Vaughan is tired mentally, and the strike bowlers aere patchy.

Perhaps if we as a nation lower our expectations they will play with less fear?

What has Andrew Strauss got to be tired & careworn about? He's played two days of cricket in the past month. On his many days off, he's got the pressures of being in the Caribbean to cope with. I'm getting burnt-out and tired from the endless complaining about player burn-out & tiredness. It just shows how much England's mental preparation has declined since the Ashes win of 2005. Fletcher took the players to the pinnacle and is now taking them quickly down again. We're losing this World Cup in the mental department - your excellent piece shows just how different Australia's approach is - and the coach has to take full responsibility for that. On paper, our bowling is on of the best in the tournament. In the batting, we've got KP and Collingwood, so we're a little behind the favourites, but not that much. Yet again, the mental preparation is wrong - and what else is the coach paid a fortune for? The difference between how Fletcher and Steve McLaren are preparing their teams with how Ferguson, Benitez & Mourinho do it speaks volumes. The players don't want to play for Fletcher any more.

  • 11.
  • At 12:14 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

After beating SA Bangla could not beat England. Well played England. The report on this site, of course, lambasted England - no well "done lads." One gets the impression that it would have been better if England had lost so that we could all have a proper moan. If England get praise for winning perhaps they will like the result and do it more often.

  • 12.
  • At 12:21 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • barbara poleykett wrote:

could somebody tell me what the numbers under the 3 lions on the england cricket shirts are for? Collingwood had 142 I think. Flintoff had 148 and Dixon 139?

  • 13.
  • At 12:28 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Graeme Edgar wrote:

Interesting stuff - sadly i think the Crims are ahead of us in many ways, we pay lip service to things whilst they innovate. How long a break did their top players have before the Ashes? Meanwhile, England were pottering around in the messy Ashes hangover period.

Isn't it sad? One victory against the enemy and the desire dissipates, the classic period of English cricket was '99-'05, we are now in a post-Ashes period where cold hard decisions need to be made in order to reset the English game. 1. Get rid of Fletch, though he has done a tremendous amount. 2. Give Freddie a break, his head is quite clearly in a mess [Good management could have prevented Trescothick from breaking down...] 3. Colly as captain, risky? Expectations are as low as they have been for a long time, and that breathing space will allow a man who knows his game inside out to blossom.

Finally, Australia were almost cruel to us in the winter, they tanned our hides - we should make Strauss, Harmy, etc earn their places back through county form - they were senior players and they had awful tours.

  • 14.
  • At 12:43 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Adrian McGinnis wrote:

I cannot believe the hype surrounding the England team. They will finish in the top 8 but not in the top 4 in the world cup. Anyone who knows about cricket, the quality of the England players i.e. only 1 ( KP) could be described as world class etc. would agree that they did reasonably well to reach the last 8. They have beaten all the teams they could be expected to beat and equally have lost to teams that you would expect them to lose to. It is reasonable to expect them to lose to South Africa and against West Indies it is 50/50 with perhaps home advantage giving W.I. a slight edge.

Obviously Ireland have played above themselves and might well lose all their matches - I think their best chances were against Bangladesh and England - what an experience for amateur players!

Adrian McGinnis

Carrickfergus
N.Ireland

  • 15.
  • At 01:22 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • I'm going to the World Cup Final! wrote:

Well, I hope and hope that Sri Lanka makes it to the finals - because I'm a Sri lankan who won a totally free trip from the HSBC Colombo to see the finals. Then my entire trip would be complete - even if we lose the finals.

Hopefully the semi finals will be Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand. If Sri lanka goes to the finals, i hope we meet New Zealand. Because we normally play better against them than against South Africa or Australia.

If you see a short brown guy with a big stomach and a goatee waving a Sri lankan flag along with my chunky ass, it'll be me. Hahahaha. Then along with that, I'll be enjoying the local tourist spots, the ganja and the local yummy-mummies! Oh yes, life is good thesedays.

  • 16.
  • At 01:25 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Martin Gough wrote:

Lorikeet, I think you're right! The Aussie media manager used to do the same job for the British Olympic Association so made the contact.

  • 17.
  • At 01:25 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Martin Gough wrote:

Bredo, Good to see you're still on board! Luggage was waiting at my hotel so all well, and slightly less smelly.

Tom Watson, Thanks for the pointer. I should be able to tell my Woolongongs from my Wagga Waggas by now.

  • 18.
  • At 01:39 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • kate wrote:

Its relates to how many players have been selected for england. EG 142 means that player is the 142nd player to play for england.

  • 19.
  • At 01:58 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • KhoverT wrote:

I note that the preview comment for the Australia vs Ireland game says "Hayden, who is the top run-scorer in the competition". Not quite true as he has scored only 436 runs as compared to 441 by Kallis.

  • 20.
  • At 02:08 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Martin Gough wrote:

Peter (11), Not sure if you watched either game but the wicket for the South Africa match was far less helpful to South Africa's bowlers early on. Had England faced bangladesh in Guyana a similar think could easily have happened.

Barbara (12), The numbers correspond to the order of caps given out in one-day internationals. Not sure who Dixon is, though.

  • 21.
  • At 02:10 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Martin Gough wrote:

Peter (11), Not sure if you watched either game but the wicket for the South Africa match was far less helpful to South Africa's bowlers early on. Had England faced bangladesh in Guyana a similar think could easily have happened.

Barbara (12), The numbers correspond to the order of caps given out in one-day internationals. Not sure who Dixon is, though.

  • 22.
  • At 03:24 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

Because Steve Redgrave doesnt know anything about being in the position England are in!

  • 23.
  • At 05:16 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • nicosia smith wrote:

I have Sir Lanka for the World Cup who do you think will win

  • 24.
  • At 05:39 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • My cars a bit rusty wrote:

Trent Johnson is from Woop Woop, near Walkabout Creek, County Donegal.

  • 25.
  • At 05:49 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • BOB wrote:


IF ENGLAND HAVE ANY CHANCE OF BEATING SAFFERS THEY HAVE TO CHANGE THERE LINE UP
ITS GOT TO BE THIS

BELL LOTS IN GOOD NICK
STRAUSS LOKED PROMISING V BAN
KP LOVES PLYNG V SA 100 OFF 80 I THINK
COLLY PLAYING OK
VUAGHAN GOT TO MOVE DOWN ORDER
BOPARA GET AHEAD OF FF
FLINTOFF GOT TO IMPROVE WITH BAT
NIXON LOTS GOOD PROVED EVRYBDY WRONG
PLUNKETT MAHMOOD OUT UNCOCSISTENT
ANDERSON HAS DONE OK HOPFULLY GETS ERLY WICKETS V SA
PANESAR GOT 3 FOR HOPFULLY CAN HIT FORM

IM BACKING US TO BAT FIRST BELL 50 KP 100 AND COLLY 50 ENG 287-7 OFF 50 OVERS

SA SMITH 50 KALLIS 50 BOCHER 50 SA 234 ALL OUT OFF 42 OVERS

BOWLING ENG FRED 2-37 OFF 10
JIMMY 1-50 OFF 8
PLUNKETT 2-46 IF SAJ PLAYS 1-55 0FF 8
PANESAR 3-40 OFF 10
COLLY 1-25 OFF 5
VAUGHAN 0-8 OFF 1

SA
NTINI 2-47 OFF 10
POLLOCK 1-45 OFF 10
NEL 1-55 0F 8
HALL 1-48 0F 10
KALLIS 2-60 OF 10
SMITH 2-24 OF 2

I WOULD LOVE FOR THIS TO HAPPEN BY THE WAY AUS 70 ODD OF 10 OVERS IRELAND BASHED HA HA HA AH HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

ALOHA!
Cricket fans near and far ... as the song birds chirp merrily away! Glad your luggage found you Mistah Martin, we bet you're having a grand time in colonial Barbados. Has the team dined on flying fish yet? Goes well with local [plaintain] chips.
That bit about "Wagga Wagga and Wollongong" broke me up ... watch out for Lukumbuzia! Please see what can be done for Breado's future in cricket ... since, you've left a big impression on him! I think he'll make a fine sports journalist. ; o )
Best regards,

  • 27.
  • At 04:47 AM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Mike.....at least you wasn't screaming too long!!!

  • 28.
  • At 06:37 PM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • SteveK wrote:

Am arriving Bridgetown Sat 21st @ 14:30 local time. I don't have a bat, and am not any good at cricket. So - Can I play?

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