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England outplayed by Sri Lanka

Jonathan Agnew | 11:26 UK time, Saturday, 22 December 2007

Saved predominately by the weather, England managed to hobble home with just one Test defeat against Sri Lanka but, as anyone who saw the series would verify, that was not a fair reflection of the balance between the two teams.

Sri Lanka is not an easy place to tour. Hot and humid, the only real preparation for playing cricket here is by playing cricket here.

It seems no matter how much time you spend running and pumping iron in the air conditioned gym, nothing comes remotely close to matching the exertion of bowling or batting for long periods.

In these conditions, it was madness to agree to a schedule of three Tests in little over three weeks – but there the excuses must end.

I am not interested in debating umpiring decisions – they even out over time and until there is something better out there - which there isn’t at the moment - fallible humans passing judgment on equally fallible humans is the best we have got. Generally, the players accept and prefer that too.

England were outplayed and outmanoeuvred in every aspect of the game.

Mahela Jayawardene’s charming smile hides a cunning, shrewd mind and an insatiable desire to bat all day.

Even after watching his opposite number bat for the best part of 21 hours, Michael Vaughan still chased a wide ball in England’s second innings and got himself out when occupation of the crease was all that mattered.

Sri Lanka's jayawardene


Jayawardene, who took the catch, would not have played it. Of course cricketers make mistakes – it would be a boring game if they didn’t – but it would have been a good way for the tour to have ended with all the batsmen having shown that they had learned something from this experience.

Kevin Pietersen’s dismissal on the final day also smacked of irresponsibility.

The wicket-keeping debate will continue. I feel sorry for Matt Prior because he works hard and has shown a lot of talent with the bat. I am a supporter of his because I accept the need for England’s keeper to contribute in that department.

Generally, Prior’s wicket-keeping was tidy on the tour, but in two vitally important games (the other being at the Oval last summer) he has dropped crucial catches, and it would be a brave selector who retains him.

This is because Prior’s confidence has clearly suffered and, also, so has that of the bowlers’ in him.

The selectors will discuss the batting issue again and they might feel that Prior is the best about, in which case they will pick him again, but I am not sure that Ryan Sidebottom will thank them for it as he seems to have been on the end of some of his spilled catches.

Finally, Monty Panesar. It is not easy to come here as the only spinner because you are sure to be outgunned by Muralitharan.

To be fair, I don’t think the media drew any direct comparisons, but we did all expect more than eight wickets at 51 runs apiece.

I would like the ECB to invest some money on Panesar’s future by enabling him to spend some time with the great Indian spinner, Bishen Bedi.

True, Bishen has some crazy ideas at times, but he was the master of variety and positive thought who surely would be able to play some part in developing Panesar into a world-class spinner.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 12:14 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Above all, England's problems on this tour have come down to a lack of experience- from the coaching staff down to the players.

When I first saw the squad announced, it was patently obvious that our batting would be light- we needed Strauss (granted he had been out of form) or a Ramprakash who has seen it all before.

I have no doubt, Bopara will be a great player but an overseas tour to Sri Lanka is not an ideal beginning.

It shocked me on day 1 of the series when asked by Nick Knight how he was going to bat with the tail that he said that he had hardly considered it at all!!

That for me was not only extremely naive but also evidence in its entirety that England had not prepared for the eventualities that would meet them on this tour.

I believe we have a nucleus of a good team forming; Vaughan, Bell, Cook, Pietersen, Harmison, Hoggard and even Monty although it must be noted that his reputation has not been enhanced during this difficult tour.

England have to stop talking about missing 'the big all-rounder' and prepare for the future without Freddie.

I believe England will win in New Zealand but South Africa in the Summer will no doubt be a sterner test and by then I dearly hope we have a wicket-keeper who can catch the ball.

Over and out.

  • 2.
  • At 12:36 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Tony Boyer wrote:

How polite! But once nice guy Michael was reappointed captain, did we expect anything different. Steel in a Yorkshireman's cricket has passed abroad like the industry in Sheffield. There is a lack of ability, a lack of spirit and a complete lack of fight about this squad. Why do we have Bopara , Harmison and Prior when whatever ability they do have is not there in this side? Oh forget it! The MCC and FA make good bedmates!

  • 3.
  • At 12:40 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Isaac Rowlands wrote:

I agree with Agnew's sentiments. We need batsmen who can occupy the crease for long periods of time but only Cook seems to have that ability. Bell played well but seems to get himself in then out too much. Pietersen's batting just smacks a bit too much of arrogance- It is one thing being confident but another being arrogant. Finally, I remember last time we were in Sri Lanka Ashely Giles took 18 wickets at an average of 29.9- just one for those who view Monty as a life saviour and who viewed Giles as rubbish.

  • 4.
  • At 12:45 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Matt Grayson wrote:

Collective failure the stock in trade of English sports.

This is the true English disease, I also venture to point out that it will not change while we overvalue the "gallant" loser and undervalue our champions.
The culture of our entire nation needs to change, because the entire globe plays sport whereas here in England it's always classed as "games".
No proper minister of sport, old school ties and stuffed shirts at every level of management throughout all sports.
No change, no inclination to change and results that reflect this.
Any success achieved is in this nation achieved in spite of the system rather than because of it.
"We've always done it like that..... we invented the baluhy game....ad infinitum"

  • 5.
  • At 12:46 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Michael Scallon wrote:

Inevitably England have lost another series which was winnable but I think we are all forgetting something. 4 years ago in Sri Lanka, England lost comfortably to a better team, but, on the following tour to West Indies, seeds of recovery were sewn as England started to ditch playerswho were at the end of the day dead wood and/or too inexperienced for this level, (Richard Johnson, James Kirtley)and picked some up and coming youngsters who had had some prior experience but were better equipped second or third time around(Simon Jones, Steve Harmison). So perhaps it's time to ditch some dead wood and bring back some players who could be better next time around like James Foster and Owais Shah, and hopefully it will lead to, like last time, victory home and away against our next opponents, a win in South africa and ultimately the Ashes in 2009.

N.B. I don't mind Prior overly but Bopara is/was clearly out of his depth and needs some time back at Essex before being recalled.

  • 6.
  • At 12:47 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Chris Leyman-Nicholls wrote:

Hi Aggers. Great commentary again. In the past I've been a supporter of the selectors in picking a keeper that bats over one that doesn't so well but is a better keeper i.e. Jones/Prior over Read. However the drops of Prior have changed things because in this series his dropped catches were vital. Read doesn't drop anything and England would have been in a far better position in this series without the runs of Prior but with Priors' dropped catches being held.
I think Bopara and Broad should be persisted with because they are great talents and have achieved all they can in the County scece. This is especially true of Bopara who has pulled games out of the fire for Essex - most notably the 160 something against Glamorgan.
Despite this series I think things look bright for England long term if they learn lessons and keep faith in the young guns. Thanks Aggers for your time.

  • 7.
  • At 12:48 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • austengg wrote:

Panesar works well when there is more bounce in the wicket - one can compare his efforts say, at Old Trafford and Perth to those in the sub-continent. Still I think the Bedi idea is a good one - Bedi span his own intricate web and Paensar must learn to do this more. One does not want him to ignore team mate advice but get to the point where he knows even more what advice to take and leave and is even more his own man in setting the fields and determining strategy.

Prior has dropped eight off Sidebottom since the beginning of last summer - nearly one a match. Its not necessarily the batter-keeper or keeper-batter debate here. Sure he is probably dropping 1 and a half more that a top keeper (Read or Foster) would per match but the point is he is probably dropping 1 more than a merely decent keeper would per match (Mustard, Ambrose, Davies etc). A decent keeper will do.

The slip catching has also been dire. 5 batters picked themselves on this tour but given none of them were slips we should have made sure that the 6th was a decent bat and slip (Shah or Strauss) not merely the former (Bopara). This is a rudimentary error which was all the more glaring in the absence of our slipping allrounder (Flintoff)

  • 8.
  • At 01:10 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • nige weir wrote:

I am a little confused with your comment aggers about Vaughany chasing a wide one and getting himself out when all he had to do was occupy the crease. Are you saying that he should have just gone for a draw in the last test match and then LOSE THE SERIES? What would have been the point in that?

  • 9.
  • At 01:16 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Chris wrote:

Most of Prior's drops came when diving to his right. Surely it's easier to teach a bloke to catch to his right than to teach him to score test hundreds? Get him to put the work in with Jack Russell or some such, and let him score some runs.

  • 10.
  • At 02:05 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Rups wrote:

Does anybody remember when Pietersen got a century!!!!
I thought of an alternative team:
Trescothick
Strauss (c)
Key
Ramprakask
Shah
Mascarenhas
Foster
Broad
Tremlett
Swann
Onions

Might give the present team a kick which they need!!

  • 11.
  • At 02:09 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Lionel Rajapakse wrote:

England were outplayed in every department of the game. It is better for them to get down to improving the basic skills because the talent is there. This talk about oppressive heat, high humidity etc. is poppy-cock. International cricketers have to adapt to any conditions that prevail. If subcontinent players complain of freezing conditions in UK, NZ and sometimes in SA, I won't buy it.

  • 12.
  • At 02:15 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • ghouse wrote:

It maybe good to get Panesar and individual coach like Bishen Bedi but lets hope he will teach him the real bowling skills that Bedi possessed, not instill into Panesar the "anti-Muralitharan" rhetoric(many attribute it professional jealousy although they are years apart)that he constantly echoes.

  • 13.
  • At 03:02 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Ramesh Shotham wrote:

Dear Aggers,
Of course Sri Lanka is hot and humid..........its geographic location makes it so. International cricketers have to adapt to situations like weather and pitches, as quickly as they can. It goes with the territory.
When subcontinental cricketers travel to England they have to deal with chilly weather even during the English summer. And don't forget the swinging ball! Well, they don't come up with excuses like how tough the touring is, etc.
England were beaten all ends up, fair and square by Sri Lanka, and thats the harsh reality!!

  • 14.
  • At 03:16 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Nic Greaves wrote:

I agree with almost everything you say Aggers.
However, it's all very well saying that Prior works hard on his game, but from what I've seen, I'll have to beg to differ.
On the morning of day 2 at Kandy, Prior warmed up in the nets with no pads on for less than 2 minutes, looked completely disinterested, and promptly got a duck in the first innings! For me that summed things up.
Moores summed it up when he said that it was dropped catches that were our undoing, and the biggest cuprit? Yep, Prior. It's time to get rid. In England, we're blessed with some great keepers, many of them young, and many of them have got runs in county cricket. I'd go for Read, but clearly selectors don't agree with that, so go for Mustard, Ambrose or even Foster. With an emarrassment of riches, why do we stick with the tried and failed? Its too much of an important position to just stick in a batsman who can wear some gloves!

  • 15.
  • At 03:24 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Tim Brown wrote:

Jonathon Agnew denigration of our only world class batsman Kevin Peiterson can not go unchallenged.

Rather than highlight any hint of arrogance, I think it is appropriate to give credit to the bowler. The ball was almost unplayable and immediately reminded me of the balls which the West Indies use to bowl at Alan Lamb and co 20 years or so ago.

England were soundly beaten. Hence, I would find a place for Strauss and Ramprakash. Foster would be my choice behind the stumps.

With only the likes of West Indies, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe behind England in the Test Rankings we need a morale boosting tour in New Zealand
along with Peter Moore making some big decision regarding playing the likes of Broad and Swan. With Monty, form is temporary - class is permanent. New Zealand will provide Monty with an opportunity to come good and he could do alot worse than study the bowling of Daniel Vettori.

  • 16.
  • At 03:25 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Nic Greaves wrote:

I agree with almost everything you say Aggers.
However, it's all very well saying that Prior works hard on his game, but from what I've seen, I'll have to beg to differ.
On the morning of day 2 at Kandy, Prior warmed up in the nets with no pads on for less than 2 minutes, looked completely disinterested, and promptly got a duck in the first innings! For me that summed things up.
Moores summed it up when he said that it was dropped catches that were our undoing, and the biggest cuprit? Yep, Prior. It's time to get rid. In England, we're blessed with some great keepers, many of them young, and many of them have got runs in county cricket. I'd go for Read, but clearly selectors don't agree with that, so go for Mustard, Ambrose or even Foster. With an emarrassment of riches, why do we stick with the tried and failed? Its too much of an important position to just stick in a batsman who can wear some gloves!

  • 17.
  • At 03:43 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • mango man wrote:

i reckon that england should never play sri lanka in sri lanka because it doesn't make much sense. it is waaaaay too hot there so they probably got cooked. speaking of which, cook was awesome. haha.

  • 18.
  • At 03:46 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • JH Corbett wrote:

Lots has been said about the wicket-keeper, Monty and the batting (true, all have performed below expectations) but the key issue is the complete powder puff abilities of the England seamers. Michael Vaughan hit the nail on the head when he mentioned the chronic inability of England to bowl teams out twice when on tour. Without Flintoff (by far England's best bowler) the best England are ever going to get is a draw.

Don't see how the batsmen can take the blame for this teams' main weakness. It must get a bit depressing when they have to spend 2 days in 40 degree heat in the field and the best they are ALWAYS doing is playing for a draw.

  • 19.
  • At 03:51 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • James Emmerson wrote:

I have said it before and I will say it again: Panesar is a good county player but a lightweight in the heavyweight world of Test cricket.
His batting and particularly his fielding have longed since ceased to be endearing and are now simply embarassing.
The 'cult' of Monty that the media so feverishly built up - you can still get that ridiculous Monty mask on the BBC website - was yet another example of overblowing a far from proven cricketer on the basis of one half-decent performance.
When Giles played, his over the wicket stuff at least contained batsmen, whereas Monty lacked the confidence, nouse and basic ability to control what he was sending down. Why on earth Swann was not picked instead is another black mark against Vaughan's captaincy, which was distinctly poor in this series and a contributing factor to the comprehensive defeat.

  • 20.
  • At 03:52 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

england side against new zealand shud b
1)Strauss
2)Cook
3)Vaughanc(c)
4)Pietersen
5)Bell
6)Collingwood
7)Prior(wk)
8)Sidebottom
9)Harmison
10)Hoggard
11)Panesar

  • 21.
  • At 03:56 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Mano RatKandyanBoy wrote:

England saved by Rain...ipso facto

As for the foll comment
"Sri Lanka is not an easy place to tour. Hot and humid, the only real preparation for playing cricket here is by playing cricket here" let me replace it with

England is not an easy place to tour. Cold, wet, the only real preparation for playing cricket here is by playing cricket here. Same goes for the miserable freezing conditions the SRi Lankans only experience in a Refrigerator when you ask them to play at Lords.

Both sides are pros. Again Ipso Facto.

  • 22.
  • At 04:01 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • rod oliver wrote:

I get tired of hearing how losing teams can use phrases like "we learnt a lot about ourselves" or "use this experience to progress" or possibly "this will make us stronger" or the good one "prepare us for the xxxx championships", if this was true then english sport would be the pinnacle and even the Australians would worship us. The Australians were beaten by England in cricket and went home and really took stock of the above phrases and look at them now, The team to beat again. English sport does not have the devine right to beat the smaller nations in any form of sport and it is about time the country understood this. Why aren't we producing people of the calibre of Botham, Willis,Gower etc. The Australians have been doing this for 30 plus years. I realise Pietersen is not english and this has not been is best tour BUT he is the only world class player we have.

  • 23.
  • At 04:06 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Gordon Davidson wrote:

I heartly agree with the comment made earlier about occupying the crease. However, I feel there is another mind set that needs to be overcome, that of the Aussie thinking. Bullying the bowling side by trying to score quickly. The team seem to be tied up with plans on batting and bowling, but surely there is a case of a) playing each ball on its merits when batting; and when bowling being able to bowl line and length. Let the batsmen make the mistakes.

BACK TO BASIC LADS!!

  • 24.
  • At 04:12 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • rod oliver wrote:

I get tired of hearing how losing teams can use phrases like "we learnt a lot about ourselves" or "use this experience to progress" or possibly "this will make us stronger" or the good one "prepare us for the xxxx championships", if this was true then english sport would be the pinnacle and even the Australians would worship us. The Australians were beaten by England in cricket and went home and really took stock of the above phrases and look at them now, The team to beat again. English sport does not have the devine right to beat the smaller nations in any form of sport and it is about time the country understood this. Why aren't we producing people of the calibre of Botham, Willis,Gower etc. The Australians have been doing this for 30 plus years. I realise Pietersen is not english and this has not been is best tour BUT he is the only world class player we have.

  • 25.
  • At 04:17 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Taj wrote:

Agree with Aggers on Panesar. Under Parsons who has not played at the highest level montys bowling has come so far. Bedi who monty admires could take his game to a new level.

  • 26.
  • At 04:20 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Peter wrote:

If you want to keep Prior in the side you have to find another bowler.It might be a case of rely on the batsmen you've got and find a bowler of the future.Surely there are aspiring fast bowlers coming through your system.

  • 27.
  • At 04:27 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Taj wrote:

Agree with Aggers on Panesar. Under Parsons who has not played at the highest level montys bowling has come so far. Bedi who monty admires could take his game to a new level.

  • 28.
  • At 04:42 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • aggers wrote:

Post 16: If you think a leg stump half volley is unplayable, go and find another sport!

  • 29.
  • At 05:11 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Matt Grayson wrote:

Collective failure the stock in trade of English sports.

This is the true English disease, I also venture to point out that it will not change while we overvalue the "gallant" loser and undervalue our champions.
The culture of our entire nation needs to change, because the entire globe plays sport whereas here in England it's always classed as "games".
No proper minister of sport, old school ties and stuffed shirts at every level of management throughout all sports.
No change, no inclination to change and results that reflect this.
Any success achieved is in this nation achieved in spite of the system rather than because of it.
"We've always done it like that..... we invented the baluhy game....ad infinitum"

  • 30.
  • At 05:15 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Ian Smith, Warwickshire wrote:

I agree with everything you've said, Aggers, except as regards the wicket-keeping debate.
The only way (and it is the only way) to win a test match is to take 20 wickets. Therefore, we simply must pick the best wicket-keeper we have available, almost regardless of how many (or how few) runs he scores.

  • 31.
  • At 05:23 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Jamie Dowling wrote:

Interesting stuff, as ever. Listening to Freddie Flintoff's interview on Jonathan Ross I'm not sure how much the big lad has learned from his indiscretions. I didn't get a feeling of reinforced professionalism from him.

Love the idea of Monty spending time with Bedi. Get some mentors in. Alan Knott and Bob Taylor for the keeper, John Snow and Darren Gough for the fast bowlers and Geoffrey Boycott for the batsmen. They don't have to be English, but former English players are more likely to be people the current team can identify with.

Don't laugh, a lot of the basics are lacking and need reinforcing.

Will Chris Read get a call up? I doubt it somehow. After being mistreated by the ECB he signed up with the ICL. The BCCI got snotty when Daryl Tuffey (who also signed for the ICL) played for his new state side and were told by New Zealand Cricket that ICL players were free to play for state sides but wouldn't be regarded as available for international selection, as per the policies of other test playing countries.

Please can the cricketers and coaches stop using business speak spin and platitudes? At least with David Lloyd there was a guy speaking with his heart on his sleeve. Leave the spin on the cricket field and admit the stats don't tell a fair story: England were well beaten.

  • 32.
  • At 05:30 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • ivan averbuch wrote:

excuses, excuses...maybe we should stop praising players who only play when they feel like it...steve harmison has a mental problem...how can you be a great bowler like glen mcgrath when every day there is some reason why you cannot perform, matt prior..enough said..not so arrogant anymore, poor sidebottom..a real trier..bring back chris read, best keeper in england and he can bat, give him a proper chance. the thing that gets me is this laddish culture..all high fives and beers...look like a bunch of wallys when the opposition are systematically sorting you out...cook is great, so is bell..coliingwood has attitude for tests...pietersen, behaves like a footballer..flintoff..he will only come good once off the booze and trains like a professional..bring back boycott, atherton..they know how to put a value on their wicket

  • 33.
  • At 05:30 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Using only one spinner was crazy. Yes the wickets were not particularly conducive to spin but neither did the heat and oppression suit unclimatised English seamers!! KP is completely over-rated. Like many new batsmen who burst on to the scene they enjoy instant success but eventually with the use of modern technology, opposition bowlers suss out their weaknesses and bowl accordingly. Only the very top batsmen with relatively few weaknesses (eg Ponting) can sustain success over a period of time. Cook looks as he is England's best bet as he appears to be able to work on and eliminate his own failings, particularly his decision making. He is developing a desire and hunger to just stay at the crease and know that the runs will follow rather than be tempted like KP to be flash. The disappointing thing is that although Murali was good,as you would expect, the performance against their seamers on fairly flat pitches was dire.The fact that they were able to declare twice pretty much summed it all up.

  • 34.
  • At 05:32 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Jim Foxall wrote:

Geoff Boycott was correct in his Telegraph column, it is about time that we accepted that our cricket and football teams are ordinary. The only potential World class cricket players that we have are Flintoff, Harmison & Pietersen. And amongst this group there is no Ponting, Hayden, McGrath etc. Pity about Tres who is up there.

Curious no comment as yet on KP's poor showing with the bat. He never looked like hanging in when the going was tough. It would be healthier if there was competition for his batting place. Should't Ramps be given a run out in NZ?

  • 36.
  • At 05:44 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Using only one spinner was crazy. Yes the wickets were not particularly conducive to spin but neither did the heat and oppression suit unclimatised English seamers!! KP is completely over-rated. Like many new batsmen who burst on to the scene they enjoy instant success but eventually with the use of modern technology, opposition bowlers suss out their weaknesses and bowl accordingly. Only the very top batsmen with relatively few weaknesses (eg Ponting) can sustain success over a period of time. Cook looks as he is England's best bet as he appears to be able to work on and eliminate his own failings, particularly his decision making. He is developing and desire and hunger to just stay at the crease and know that the runs will follow rather than be tempted like KP to be flash. The disappointing thing is that although Murali was good,as you would expect, the performance against their seamers on fairly flat pitches was dire.The fact that they were able to declare twice pretty much summed it all up.

  • 37.
  • At 05:46 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Using only one spinner was crazy. Yes the wickets were not particularly conducive to spin but neither did the heat and oppression suit unclimatised English seamers!! KP is completely over-rated. Like many new batsmen who burst on to the scene they enjoy instant success but eventually with the use of modern technology, opposition bowlers suss out their weaknesses and bowl accordingly. Only the very top batsmen with relatively few weaknesses (eg Ponting) can sustain success over a period of time. Cook looks as he is England's best bet as he appears to be able to work on and eliminate his own failings, particularly his decision making. He is developing a desire and hunger to just stay at the crease and know that the runs will follow rather than be tempted like KP to be flash. The disappointing thing is that although Murali was good,as you would expect, the performance against their seamers on fairly flat pitches was dire.The fact that they were able to declare twice pretty much summed it all up.

  • 38.
  • At 05:57 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Greg wrote:

Aggers you are totally correct. Since the ashes win we have blamed defeat too much on inexperience and injuries, well it is no excuse anymore. The wicket-keeping debate will continue until we find the new 'Alec Stewart' but Read or Foster do need considering for the job. Bopara was the wrong choice as we already have collingwood who can bowl so why on earth didnt shah play. Finally, Monty didnt have a great series and i think someone mentioned the wickets that giles took when we last toured, and maybe Englans hould have taken a wrist spinner rather than two finger spinners, Rashid could have been taken for some valuable experience as he looks to be a great youngster and will add greater depth to our tail.

  • 39.
  • At 06:26 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Tom Robertson wrote:

I would sooner see England lose from now to the end of time rather than watch a team of Geoff Boycott clones emptying grounds in pursuit of their selfish ambitions.

People forget the very serious trouble the game was in while Boycott was around - not to mention his own County!

  • 40.
  • At 06:36 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • stevie hull wrote:

Ramesh: post number 14.

I really don't see your point. Have you read the posts and Aggers? No one is using the excuse of hot weather. All people are saying is that SL is tough environment.
Pretty much everyone on this board accepts England were outplayed and is not making excuses.

As for other teams not moaning about the ENglish weather. Wake up! Happens all the time. Half of them refuse to tour early in the summmer because of it.

Please read posts fully before making idiotic contributions.

Well done SL. By far the better team. England down to 5th in the world which I am happier with as far truer reflection.

However if Aussies thrash India as I believe they will, Test cricket will become a somewhat sad sport as everyone battles for 2nd.

  • 41.
  • At 06:38 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Paul Bennett wrote:

I notice no comments about the abysmal leadership shown by Mr Vaughan Time he was shown the door, his batting was terrible and he showed no serious will to win. Bring Strauss back give him the Captains role and watch him flurish.

Peterson my dear chap lock your ego in your locker room and remember your playing for a team, you CAN be the best.

Harmisson, so sad your 1 year at the top saw you fall like a stone. go back to county and learn your place has to still be earned.

Prior, damn, such potential, now we will never see it complete. Your dropped i fear pitty you could have been a contender.

As for the rest in my view they deserve to keep there places bring in Strauss and Ramps yes he is ageing but he can show those young wipersnappers a thing or two and YES they MAY just learn.

  • 42.
  • At 06:47 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Nick T wrote:

A better team:

Trescothick
Cook
Bell
Pieterson
Vaughan
Strauss
Flintoff
Foster
Panesar
Harmisson
Hoggard

Back up: Key, Shah, Anderson, Sidebottom.

But due to injury (mental and physical) and current selection policy it will never be picked!

  • 43.
  • At 06:51 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • C.Christmas wrote:

I think we should put any criticism of England into perspective by noting the total superiority of the Sri Lankan team in all areas: committment, spirit, team unity, as well as bowling, batting and fielding. England, in contrast, were limp, pathetic one could even say.

I'll say what I've said many times before, first, we must drop Prior. I know Aggers you've decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I just haven't got the same generosity of spirit I'm afraid. We should pick the best keeper instead of the best batsman/keeper ultimately; in my view this means selecting Foster or Read for the South African tour and letting Mustard serve as an interim for New Zealand.

Bopara deserves to go to New Zealand, just because he's a better future prospect than Shah or any equivalent. He was under-bowled in this series and wins kudos, in my opinion, for being the only England player to consistently field with any energy throughout the Galle test. As for Broad, I'd say back to the nets for the tests and play him in the ODI's to give him more practice.

Harmison should be dropped, I'm sorry, but irrespective of what Simon Hughes thinks, he just didn't impress. Monty's poor figures weren't his fault for the most part, but were mainly due to the negative field placings and tactics used by Vaughan. Shades of the 4th and 5th tests at Melbourne and Sydney during the last Ashes series. Sidebottom was a credit to his country this tour: the only player who leaves with his reputation enhanced in my view.

That's my run-through of what I think needs to be fixed. Above all, what England need to do is watch a video of Jayawardene's (either, but preferably Mahela) innings at Galle and adopt whatever recommendations can be derived, accordingly.

Finally, I'd like to wish a very Happy Christmas to the whole TMS team and thank you for your excellent work this year.

  • 44.
  • At 07:11 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Ed Wilkinson wrote:

I think that much of what Aggers says is true, especially regarding Monty and Bishan Bedi. Shane Warne had his own personal leg-spin mentor and he didn't do too badly did he ? (although I'm not saying Monty could ever be in Warne's class). However, Mont has been great for England and can be again, but he must stick to test cricket and give the one day stuff a miss as he's not been the same since. Drop Prior and replace him with Read, and don't let Ramprakash anywhere near the test team ever again ! Oh, and fast track Adil Rashid, surely a spinning all rounder would have been worth a look n Sri Lanka !

  • 45.
  • At 07:12 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Adrian wrote:

Just a few thoughts. It must now be time to forget the Ashes of 2005. Great when it happened, but since then we have gone so far back.Also let there be no more talk about the next Ashes. We have to start winning series and when we ahead learn to ruthlessly push home our advantage.

England have to find ways of getting great players out. Kallis awaits in the Summer. Great batters can be sligtly boring to watch - they bat at their pace, but ignore celebrating classy 50s. Jayawardena just batted England out of the series.Ruthless from his first ball. When you looked though he scored at a decent rate - often the equal of our flashy 50 and out batters.

Whatever happened to playing a situation. When you need to score runs then you attack, when you need to save wickets or occupy the crease then play more cautiously.

As much as I love watching Pieterson, this whole dominating the bowler malarky is starting to wear a little thin. He has to learn that personal duals sometimes, have to be put aside for the benefit of the team.

I understand the bowling has been lame, the batting just as bad. But there is no excuse for slack fielding.

The whole England camp should be ashamed of their performance in the test series. They need to take a long hard look at themselves and think about they are going to look to play cricket in the future.

Arrogant cricket works for Australia, but the harsh reality is that we're just nowhere near as good as the Aussies.

I think the weather is part and parcel of the game. It can also be very cold in England and can also be very hot in Australia for example but like every sportsman you got to prepare for the conditions.

  • 48.
  • At 07:45 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Jon Atherton wrote:

Sri Lanka deserve a lot of credit although I don't think they are the second best test team in the world. Apart from Sangakarra and Mahela Jaywardene their batting is fallible, something the Australins managed to ruthlessly expose. Without Murali their bowling is questionable.

Despite this Sri Lanka comprehensivly outplayed England and fully deserved to win the series. This is a major worry for England fans. Back to back series against a poor New Zealand will be followed by a series against South Africa that should provide a sterner test.

To me the bowling is the worrying aspect. We simply don't look like bowling teams out. Hoggard bowled well in the first test but did not look fully fit at Galle. Sidebottom tries hard but lacks the variety to take many wickets. Harmison and Anderson blow with the wind whilst Broad does not look ready. Hopefully Monty's current form is just a dip. I was surprised and disappointed Tremlett wasn't in the squad. He acquited himself well against India and deserved to be on this tour.

The wicket keeper debate will go on. Whilst Prior will be criticised, up until Galle he had a decent tour. His batting certianly was impressive. The problem is he drops catches and will continue to do so. Personally I like Chris Reid behind the stumps. However considering the length of our tail, I am willing to accept that if his batting is not considered good enough for test matches then he should not be in the team.

Its safe to say the batting underperformed. Bopara is a good young player but maybe not ready for tests yet. I'd like to Shah in the number 6 slot.

Its safe to say England have a lot to think about before the New Zealand and not a lot of time to do it.

  • 49.
  • At 07:57 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Alan Cooper wrote:

For me the most alarming feature of the Test series was England bowlers inability to bowl the opposition.
The only England bowlers to actually hit the stumps were Panesar twice and Collingwood twice.
Surely if catches aren't being taken you should take matters into your own hands and bowl on the stumps!

  • 50.
  • At 08:22 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • djoldyorkie wrote:

The first international match I saw was Don Bradmans final innings at the Oval. Then cricket was played on pitches open to the elements BUT did the batsmen run up the white flag and capitulate, I think not. The national teams had pride in representing their countries not just a (not so) fat cheque at the end of the day. What England desperately needs is a team of (the much maligned) G Boycott's. Obviously most of his detractors in this column either never saw him bat or never had any idea of the struggles he went through to achieve the position as one of the great opening bats of all time. His was not the natural ability of Peter May, Colin Cowdray, Niel Harvey or David Gower but more the tenacity of Bradman, Bill Laurie, Bob Simpson who put such a high price on their wicket. To use a pommie analogy you wouldnt enter a show pony in a three mile steeplechase at wetherby on Boxing Day. Perhaps England should start at the bottom again and select Collingwood as captain and build a new team of workers around him and for goodness sake DO NOT pick a wicketkeeper for his batting contributions. Finally just for one of yesterdays contributors on Sheffield steel, Michael Vaughan is a Lancastrian who lives in Derbyshire so we cant be blamed for that.

  • 51.
  • At 08:23 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Ian Smith, Warwickshire wrote:

I agree with everything you've said, Aggers, except as regards the wicket-keeping debate.
Maybe there's a case to include Prior in the one day side.
However, the only way (and it is the only way) to win a test match is to take 20 wickets.
Therefore, we simply must pick the best wicket-keeper we have available, almost regardless of how many (or how few) runs he scores.

  • 52.
  • At 08:45 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • C.Christmas wrote:

I think we should put any criticism of England into perspective by noting the total superiority of the Sri Lankan team in all areas: committment, spirit, team unity, as well as bowling, batting and fielding. England, in contrast, were limp, pathetic one could even say.

I'll say what I've said many times before, first, we must drop Prior. I know Aggers you've decided to give him the benefit of the doubt, but I just haven't got the same generosity of spirit I'm afraid. We should pick the best keeper instead of the best batsman/keeper ultimately; in my view this means selecting Foster or Read for the South African tour and letting Mustard serve as an interim for New Zealand.

Bopara deserves to go to New Zealand, just because he's a better future prospect than Shah or any equivalent. He was under-bowled in this series and wins kudos, in my opinion, for being the only England player to consistently field with any energy throughout the Galle test. As for Broad, I'd say back to the nets for the tests and play him in the ODI's to give him more practice.

Harmison should be dropped, I'm sorry, but irrespective of what Simon Hughes thinks, he just didn't impress. Monty's poor figures weren't his fault for the most part, but were mainly due to the negative field placings and tactics used by Vaughan. Shades of the 4th and 5th tests at Melbourne and Sydney during the last Ashes series. Sidebottom was a credit to his country this tour: the only player who leaves with his reputation enhanced in my view.

That's my run-through of what I think needs to be fixed. Above all, what England need to do is watch a video of Jayawardene's (either, but preferably Mahela) innings at Galle and adopt whatever recommendations can be derived, accordingly.

Finally, I'd like to wish a very Happy Christmas to the whole TMS team and thank you for your excellent work this year.

  • 53.
  • At 09:04 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Phil Drake wrote:

Will some worthy from "Cricket England", if there is such a body, stand outside Lords and clearly stipulate just exactly what the issue is with Christopher Read. Excuses and reasons have abounded for three years now. After they have told us all the truth the bloggers can then discount him forever and someone else can be the "will I / wont I - be England's permanent keeper." I am not suprised Chris Read looks nervy with the bat -he knows they can't wait to kick the chap out!!
He may be the world's top glove man, but that might not be good enough for England.
Selectors have been very patient and supportive of Howler Keepers- but cry of, "Keep Read - we believe in him", ever came from the heirarchy.
Every time catches go down pundits say that a good keeper can save runs/win matches. STILL NO READ!!
So! Let us all know the (real) reason and we will not mention Christopher Read again.

NB, I am a qualified coach and find it hard to tell young keepers that our national keepers are not strictly our best. "Who is then?", they reply!!!! And "Why!"

  • 54.
  • At 09:51 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Chris Jaw wrote:

Agree with all the comments about Chris Read, a proven match winner. Given his skill with the bat we could have played him in the Gaffer role at 6 and drafted in another bowler - Swann maybe. With those two in from the start Sri Lanka would have trembled and we'd have strolled to a 3-0 series victory.

  • 55.
  • At 09:56 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Chris Procter wrote:

Once upon a time, in a land which it is fairly obvious that most of your correspondents have never known, a tour was a tour in which the visiting team played a number of matches before the Test Series began in order to acclimatise, and then a game or two between Test Matches.

It is regrettable that in the current soundbite/instant fix/satellite TV age that this no longer happens, with the result that the home country tends always to win (unless, currently, Australia are involved), as the tours are so short.

Until this can be redressed, it is unfair to criticise and castigate the players, of which ever nation, for their supposed infallibilities - I doubt whether any of your correspondents could contend with performing in the number of back to back Test Matches (or ODI's) with which all international cricketers are expected to (or even playing at club level).

Further, fewer Test matches might raise the level of comment on this site.

  • 56.
  • At 10:20 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Pilgrimbilly wrote:

Well done Sri Lanka - favouries before hand, and outplayed England in all aspects of the game - kudos to Vaughan for admitting it.
Sympathy for Prior is unnecessary - a "chirpy" (i.e., mouthy) WK completely unable to back up the mouth hardly deserves it. What exactly did he do to deserve his lucrative (and presumably ghost-written) column here anyway?

  • 57.
  • At 10:21 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • razaaq wrote:

halooow england are pure shitttttt

benchawd

Hi Aggers, the wicket-keeping debate will always be a bit of a stinger for any player because it's probably the most sensitive problem in the England team at the time. The key, I feel is not having a keeper who can bat, or can be a good captain, but having a player who can, above everything else actually stand behind the stumps and take the catches, prevent wide deliveries and play a role in the run-outs. I still think the ECB were harsh to throw Geraint Jones out of the set-up and really hope they call him back. If a keeper can be a keeper AND contribute a few runs, then bravo-we have a player. But its important to remember that whilst there may be 4 or 5 bowlers and 4 or 5 batsmen in a team, there will only ever be 1 wicket keeper so in theory, he is probably the player who had to be on duty for every ball in the match.
Lets hope the NZ tour will be better.

  • 59.
  • At 10:42 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • dave brand wrote:

I can't help feeling that the improvement in the one day performances has been at the expense of the test match results. Our players(the ones involved in both) seem incapable of showing the adaptability required for both games. In the one day game obviously the run rate is critical which encourages the batsman to be more adventurous and the bowlers to keep the score down rather than take wickets. The mentality in the test game form should be to stay in at all costs. Even Cooky, who was for me the only one to come out with some credit(apprarently he has a record similar to the legendary Ricky Ponting for his age), reached for a ball, eventually, which he didn't have to. Belly seems to relax too much once he gets to 50 and loses his hunger to stay in, he needs to raise his expectancy level. If you can get to 50 you should be able to get to 100, it's simply a mental/concentration thing, the hard work has been done. Having said all of that it has to be said that England have been very unlucky with injuries etc, Freddie, Simon Jones, Tres and Hoggy and Harmy have been hampered with niggling injuries for a while. Even Ashley Giles might have been useful this time around. We should stick with Ravi Bopara, he clearly has the potential but needs the experience such as this tour that you simply can't get in county cricket. We need to sacrifice results now but build a team that in 3 or 4 years can compete with the best. Put Mustard in now and develop his raw batting ability to suit the test match arena. It will take time but players like him have natural ability unlike Prior who is a decent batsman but just can't keep at that level.

  • 60.
  • At 10:48 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Thomas Cullis wrote:

I think a lot of people are forgetting just how good a batsman Prior can be. I agree that his keeping needs a lot of work but an average of over 40 is very commendable in a player so new to Test cricket, and beats the average of Ian Bell over the test series' they have both played in. There seem to be no cries to drop Bell for his batting performances even though his slip-fieldsmanship is far from exemplory. Why then, if the selectors are keen for a specialist keeper, do they not select him alongside Prior? As we've seen he is a player that thrives on confidence. With the media on his back in the India Series he returned a pitiful 12.17 average with the bat, but casting that series aside he has an average of 54.3 for England (bringing his career average to 40.14). The influence of a true gloveman in the side could have a positive effect on Prior's own keeping (with a good run in the county championship for Prior as keeper whenever he returns to the Sussex) and without the pressure of the press hounding him for his keeping he may become a truly great batsman in his own right. Perhaps if he keeps his place as keeper for the one-dayers he could well be good enough after a few more years to carry out the job of being a world-class keeper and still contribute heavily with the bat at test level.

  • 61.
  • At 10:49 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • dave brand wrote:

I can't help feeling that the improvement in the one day performances has been at the expense of the test match results. Our players(the ones involved in both) seem incapable of showing the adaptability required for both games. In the one day game obviously the run rate is critical which encourages the batsman to be more adventurous and the bowlers to keep the score down rather than take wickets. The mentality in the test game form should be to stay in at all costs. Even Cooky, who was for me the only one to come out with some credit(apprarently he has a record similar to the legendary Ricky Ponting for his age), reached for a ball, eventually, which he didn't have to. Belly seems to relax too much once he gets to 50 and loses his hunger to stay in, he needs to raise his expectancy level. If you can get to 50 you should be able to get to 100, it's simply a mental/concentration thing, the hard work has been done. Having said all of that it has to be said that England have been very unlucky with injuries etc, Freddie, Simon Jones, Tres and Hoggy and Harmy have been hampered with niggling injuries for a while. Even Ashley Giles might have been useful this time around. We should stick with Ravi Bopara, he clearly has the potential but needs the experience such as this tour that you simply can't get in county cricket. We need to sacrifice results now but build a team that in 3 or 4 years can compete with the best. Put Mustard in now and develop his raw batting ability to suit the test match arena. It will take time but players like him have natural ability unlike Prior who is a decent batsman but just can't keep at that level.

  • 62.
  • At 11:06 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • Grabyrdy wrote:

Spot on about Monty and Bedi (I would say that - I suggested it 2 days ago, altho' I don't suppose Aggers has the time to read all our comments).

Will this grim performance signal a pause in "bits and pieces" players ? Jayawardene does what he does better than anyone else. Can you say that of Prior ? England have the best keeper in the world (Read) who can't get picked 'cos he might only score 20 instead of 30. Whereas a drop might cost 100. Daft or what ?

And Bopara. What kind of message did it send out to the Sri Lankans when England picked a "promising" player, who bowled a bit, over Shah, who has scored stacks of runs season after season, and seemed to be setting himself to play it long and patiently ?

If I was Jaya, I know what conclusion I would have drawn - England underestimates us - they think they can win, and blood youngsters, at the same time.

VERY BAD CHOICE.

  • 63.
  • At 11:06 PM on 22 Dec 2007,
  • John wrote:

There should be no excuses, yes. England stunk up the joint. But it's rather rich of Jayawardene to talking about negativity. Perhaps he should look up the definition before be crows about it. Pot kettle black, Mahela. Pot kettle black.

(And before any of you Lankans reply, try to think about what I mean before you mouth off.)

  • 64.
  • At 12:02 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Gwyn Williams wrote:

Re comment No 10. I recall the Glamorgan and England all rounder, Alun Watkins (Glamorgan and England), saying two things about wicket keepers: 1)They should be picked on their wicket keeping ability not their batting and 2) A good keeper, standing back to seam bowling, should never have to dive, either right or left. They make the ground on their feet.

  • 65.
  • At 12:32 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Steven Alpert wrote:

I'm an American, and I've been watching this series on DirecTV and thought I'd put in a comment. By the way, I root for England, though it has been somewhat painful since 2005. The whole England side would appear better, fielding and batting included, if the bowling were better. Baseball fans know that pitching is the main weapon of victory, the one necessity to be a consistent winner. England right now need two danger bowlers. There is no England bowler that batters truly fear; they are wary of Hoggard but he doesn't make batsmen squirm. Just as with Sidebottom. The fielding looked very ordinary or worse, but we've seen it look better, against India, for instance, and I'm sure it would perform much better when partnered with better bowling. With better bowling, the batting would have less pressure on them and I think would also improve. England must find a Brett Lee, a Tait if they are improve their current position in Test Cricket. They'll need a Warne, if they are to threaten to be the best in Cricket. Panesar is tolerable, but I'll bet you anything that he'll never get much better than he is now. Perhaps England should give Roger Clemens' chemist a call...

  • 66.
  • At 01:13 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • C.Christmas wrote:

(Off-topic) Apologies for posting twice, I kept getting error messages the first time I submitted a reply, so I tried again.

  • 67.
  • At 01:13 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Samir wrote:

England is not good enough. You say the football team is the best, they suck dint even qualify for the Euro.If these are your country's best players, then future of English cricket is bleak. In the last decade or so there are no world class players produced from England. Australia have 3: Warne, McGrath, Ponting. South Africa: Gary Kirsten
India: Sachin Tendulkar, Pakistan: Inzamam, West Indies: Brain Lara
I dont consider New Zealand as a cricketing nation. What about England: No player from England in the last decade are in the same class as the above mentioned players. Flintoff comes close. Its better to attract younger players into the game and look forward to the next decade to become a force to reckon with.
Invest in developing a quality wrist spinner. Dont compare Monty with Murali.. Murali is a wrist spinner and they turn the ball more sharply than finger spinners due to more revolutions on the ball. Erapalli Prasanna is a better bet than Bedi for Monty.

  • 68.
  • At 02:02 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • On Call Dr wrote:

England well beaten, congrats to Lankans.
Shah should have played. Why no Tremlett? Bowled well against Indians, should have been picked ahead of Harmison who hasn't produced for longer than I can remember.
Agree that Read would be better for team than Prior. Prior will always get more runs but we need 20 wickets to win games. Sidebottom in particular has no confidence in Prior.

  • 69.
  • At 02:55 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Jaime wrote:

England clearly should not hide behind excuses after this disappointing series. However, I really don't buy this oft repeated line that no-one should cite the heat as an excuse. Batting, bowling or fielding in extreme heat and humidity is very different to a chilly day in England or New Zealand. Putting on an extra jumper can help with the latter but dealing with dehydration and overheating is quite different. I would say that teams from India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka are less bothered by the occasional chilly spell in an early summer match at Headingly than England or New Zealand in Colombo in very hot weather. It is all part of the game and, yes, it is their job as sportsmen to deal with it but it is an undeniable factor.

  • 70.
  • At 03:37 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Jaswant Singh wrote:

Having Bedi as a guide will make no difference whatsoever to Panesar's bowling. First, Monty Sardarji does not have much talent. Two, Bedi Sardarji had superb talent, fellow was truly magnificent. But sadly, he is no coach and is now too old and opinionated. He ruined Maninder Singh's bowling by forcing too many changes to his style.

  • 71.
  • At 04:30 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • ramesh wrote:

You have hit the nail spot on where Monty Panesar is concerned. A stint with Bishen Bedi would do him a world of good both as regards his art as well as developing mental toughness. I noticed in the latest series that Monty was visibly losing his equanimity when things were not going his way. If the selectors view him as a long term investment, they should gamble by not sending him to NZ but getting him to Bishen Bedi straight away. I am also old fashioned enough to think that Monty should not play ODIs as that will condition him to bowl flat(which he already seems to be doing). I am also surprised that the WK spot is creating so much heartburn--I wonder whether it will be an injustice to the present lot of keepers if one were to invoke the names of Ames, Evans, Andrew, Knott.

  • 72.
  • At 05:12 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Steven Jones wrote:

For the tour to New Zealand why not ditch Prior & replace him with Tim Ambrose from Warwickshire.

  • 73.
  • At 06:37 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Peter Pearce wrote:

England, Oh England, My England..where art thou, My England???..When will the powers that be cut down on the importation of players from all over the world that hone their natural skills at our expense, keeping the young ones out of the game??When will the powers that be encourage the retirement of Old ex players from the County scene? The money thus saved shoud be used in the hiring of first class coaches, coaches who HATE the thought of losing...and what about teaching KP a lesson in the art of batting for a team?? Drop him...how many many times has he been out when set, playing a ridiculous arrogant shot, when a century PLUS is needed?????..and finally, thankfully, I do not have, and cannot aford Foxtel TV in Adelaide, and am thus pevented from wathing our very embarrassing attempts at playing Test Match Cricket...Our boys on here unfortunately keep me up to date...(Thanks Guys, not your fault you ruin my day on a 5 daily basis...hahahaha

  • 74.
  • At 07:12 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • James McQuaid wrote:

Another excellent blog Aggers, I think you summed the series up perfectly... I don't know if you actually read all the posts, but if you do - keep up the good work!

My general reflections: didn't expect England to come away with anything significant from this series, but I'm still disappointed in what looked like a general lack of fight. Having never been to that part of the world though, I don't think I'm in a position to judge how hard it must be...

I'm going to presume to pass judgement on a select few of our players now, forgive any comments you may feel out of place...

Harmison: looking better, worked hard and was maybe brought down by the general atmosphere that must have been around the dressing room, looks like he could come good again though.

Bopara: I really like Ravi and was hoping he'd get his Test cap; looked like he couldn't quite stand up to the task this time, but I think he'll come good.

Broad: see above, exactly the same, definitely a good prospect but couldn't get it quite right this time

Bell: disappointing, maybe unlucky sometimes, still looks like he could be a major figure for England though.

Cook: infuriatingly inconsistent; sometimes he looks completely lost but then makes a century on the last day! Again, definitely part of England's future though; seems like a thoroughly decent bloke and I'm sure he'll lead England out one day.

Monty: had a rough time, needs to learn a few tricks; still a class act though, even if he didn't show it this time... please don't let him be another one that gets built up to get knocked down.

Pietersen: a series to forget, but still managed to get past 3000 in near enough record time - that proves his class even if he didn't look his usual dominating self.

Sidey: looked dangerous when his mojo was on; still an excellent option, I think he'll do better in NZ.

Vaughan: nondescript.

Hope you agreed with my opinions, even if they went on too long; the final word though has to go to the Sri Lankan batting line up - England definitely have a lot to learn from the way they all applied themselves...

  • 75.
  • At 08:37 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Peter Forbes wrote:

Working in the Indian/Sri Lankan climate and local conditions is not easy for any European, so we should make some allowances for the team, especially as they had little time to acclimatize.

Our players need to go to these places more often, not just for the Test matches but for 'general' visits so that they are more familiar with the conditions.

As has already been said, getting warm on a cold day is a lot easier than getting cool on a hot day.

For the Indians and other sub-continent teams, coming to the UK is a big treat as everything here is so much better for them than their own country.

I worked in India for 13weeks in the 1980's and understand what our cricketers were experiencing.

  • 76.
  • At 08:50 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Ian Atkins wrote:

Until we find a new 6th batsman, I think we should go back to Strauss opening with Cook, and Vaughan dropping down to three.

The other change I would make is to drop Pietersen back down to 5. For some reason, Big Kev batted much better at 5....until the clamour came for him to bat at 4. I think the problem is at 4 he doesn't know whether to attack or defend, and gets caught between two stools. At 5, I think he gets a better picture of what sort of innings he should play. Now I know people will say that at 5 he may run out of partners down the order, but I'd rather he run out of partners on 100 not out, than keep getting out for 20's and 30's.

As for behind the stumps, Prior still gets the nod, but he quickly needs to get some stickier gloves.

Thought Bopara was a strange choice from day 1 - Shah must be wondering when he'll ever get a proper chance.

Hard to decide upon a bowling quartet, as our bowlers obviously seem to thrive in different conditions. Think it is pointless having 3 swing bowlers in the team (Hoggard, Sidebottom, Anderson) unless playing in overcast English conditions.

Anyway, I guess my 11 (in batting order) for New Zealand would be:

1. Strauss
2. Cook
3. Vaughan (capt)
4. Collingwood
5. Pietersen
6. Bell
7. Prior
8. Sidebottom or Broad
9. Harmison
10. Hoggard
11. Panesar

  • 77.
  • At 10:34 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Manas wrote:

Why hasnt anyone questioned Paul Collingwood's place in the side-clearly not a test standard number 5 ! Why couldn't they find a place for a man who averaged over 100 runs per innings in the last 2 seasons (Mark Ramprakash) ?

  • 78.
  • At 11:12 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Jeremy Livitt wrote:

Agree that we were outplayed - hold our hands up. Panesar needs to get more variety to his bowling - Prior is not a good enough wicketkeeper - Bopara should not play in tests. One or two poor choice of shots - particularly Bell who played well but could have played even better.

It's disappointing to see knee jerk comments about Pietersen's ego. His (undeserved) reputation is colouring the comments.

Ok - he had a bad series. Why don't people look at his 5 dismissals and form a proper judgement. Other than the last (which Agnew harped on about in his article) which of these were his fault? Maybe the catch that wasn't out or perhaps the ball that crawled along the ground in Kandy or maybe the ball that flew up directly into his face in Galle.

One bad series means nothing - he has delivered fantastically for England. Almsot 1000 runs this year, one of the fastest scorers to 3000 runs. Anyone who talks about dropping him is playing into the hands of the Aussies and South AFficans who know how good his talent is and are desperate for him to fail. Don't give them the satisfaction!!

  • 79.
  • At 11:15 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Luke wrote:

I'll say this, Vaughan is an incredible batsman and was incredible in the 2nd test, his shots were better than anyone's.

And those who moan about his captaincy, if his bowlers bowled well and got edges and missed his fielders, then it would be a valid criticism, but it didn't happen, did it, the edges didn't come and when they did they may of been dropped by our inexperienced slips, he can't do anything about that.

Bopara shouldn't of played, i'll give you that.
And the answer to why you'd bring a player and not play him....you can't play everyone can you?

KP failed, he'll do well in NZ, quote me.

  • 80.
  • At 11:15 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • marty of brisbane wrote:

Hi,for what its worth id like to give an opinion on what i feel is a problem in the english cricket team and perhaps english sport in general.The mental toughness and driven desire to win big games doesnt seem to be a part of your team as much as in other teams.Sure there are times when your blokes get aggresive in the field when your on top in games but when things go bad there seems to be an attitude of having a laugh and lets find an excuse.In a recent one day final here Ricky ponting gave his New zealand counterpart a verbal serve for suggesting one of our batsmen were running on the pitch deliberately,this was just the aussie way of sticking up for a mate and they play their cricket hard and fair and thats why they are loved here because we know that win lose or draw they give it all for each other on the field.The bloke who came out here and dished it back to us was kevin peterson and he,s Sth african so maybe that tells you something.We get critisized for taking sport so seriously but i dont agree,i just think we love our sport and its such a big part of growing up an aussie.I mean you have football games and call them friendlys and you spend as much time talking about your footballers wives and girlfriends than your footballers and everytime i see a test match in England on tv the crowd resembles a pantomine with blokes dressed as pandas,bears and whatever.Maybe you do take it seriously and i may be wrong but from over here from a distance it appears your all just having a laugh...cheers merry christmas to all.

  • 81.
  • At 11:29 AM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • marty of brisbane wrote:

Hi,for what its worth id like to give an opinion on what i feel is a problem in the english cricket team and perhaps english sport in general.The mental toughness and driven desire to win big games doesnt seem to be a part of your team as much as in other teams.Sure there are times when your blokes get aggresive in the field when your on top in games but when things go bad there seems to be an attitude of having a laugh and lets find an excuse.In a recent one day final here Ricky ponting gave his New zealand counterpart a verbal serve for suggesting one of our batsmen were running on the pitch deliberately,this was just the aussie way of sticking up for a mate and they play their cricket hard and fair and thats why they are loved here because we know that win lose or draw they give it all for each other on the field.The bloke who came out here and dished it back to us was kevin peterson and he,s Sth african so maybe that tells you something.We get critisized for taking sport so seriously but i dont agree,i just think we love our sport and its such a big part of growing up an aussie.I mean you have football games and call them friendlys and you spend as much time talking about your footballers wives and girlfriends than your footballers and everytime i see a test match in England on tv the crowd resembles a pantomine with blokes dressed as pandas,bears and whatever.Maybe you do take it seriously and i may be wrong but from over here from a distance it appears your all just having a laugh...cheers merry christmas to all.

  • 82.
  • At 12:52 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Criggelations wrote:

Having followed this thread all the way through, I'm in utter disbelief as to some of the tripe I've read here. I feel dirty and cheap just having taken in some of this nonsense.

1) There are still sly digs at Harmison - I thought he gave a fantastic performance on pitches that didn't suit him, returning from injury and with little cricket under his belt. Anyone who genuinely thinks that he should be dropped given the lack of (to my mind, at least) decent alternatives, is insane.

2) Comments of Collingwood, Bell and Pietersen being dropped are equally, to be blunt, retarded. We're talking about a gritty batsman with an average of 42, a more fluent batsman with the same average (and clearly ability to go far further, if he can raise his concentration levels), and finally a batsman with an average of over 50. Someone actually suggested dropping Pietersen but playing Mascerhenas - it could possibly be the most amusing comment I've ever read.

3) Talk of perservering with Bopara due to his "talent" - nonsense. Failed to make a meaningful contribution with bat, ball or in the field. Looked hopelessly out of his depth. Bordered on inept. None of these comments are too harsh. Losing a quality all-rounder like Flintoff isn't a signal to play any old tripe in his place - the balance of the team needed to be readdressed, and a quality 6th batsman should have been picked. Until Tresco (if ever) is ready, Shah or Strauss should have played. Personally I think Ramprakash should have been on the tour (building a team for the future is one thing, but results still matter, and he's been the best batsman in England for several years - age isn't necessarily the only defining factor), but in any case, sticking with a youthful but clearly not ready player was a dreadful ploy - England were as good as one batsman down for the series.

4) The great wicket-keeping debate... If Prior gets runs but drops catches, he gets chastised. If he fails with the bat but his keeping is competent, he gets chastised. The man has no hope unless he plays brilliantly in every game - and even then he'd probably get abused for "his mouth". Mustard isn't going to be any better, his keeping might be tidier but he's not the same class with the bat. Ambrose - I'd imagine he'd get the same sort of abuse that every other wicketkeeper post-Stewart has endured, as soon as he made a mistake. Prior was being hailed as a saviour after his first few tests - look at him now. GoJo and Read had to put up with it too. As for Foster... his first class average is 35, which doesn't smack of the class we're supposedly looking at, though it does compare favourably with the others. Steven Davies from Worcestershire, anyone? There are no stand-outs here, but whoever gets the nod for NZ needs and deserves a little more support.

I'll leave my rant at that, there are many more nonsensical comments which I'm just too amused to respond to... as for the SL series defeat - well, with a team boasting players like Sangakkara, Jayawardena (both, if the emergence of their keeper-batsman isn't a false dawn), Vaas and Murali, an away series defeat shouldn't be so hard to believe; we were simply outplayed by a very good team. The trick is to do exactly as the soundbytes say, to learn from it, improve and move on.

  • 83.
  • At 01:48 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • stuart wrote:

all those calling for prior to be dropped need to think back to when alec stewart was dropped down the order and asked to keep.

he was ordinary at first and actually got better with age. prior is only 25, has a good batting average, and in my opinion should remain in the side. extra practice off a jack russell type of ex player might help the lad

but i think the most important thing we are missing here is the lack of a brett lee or shoaib akhtar inswinging yorkers at 95mph are pretty hard to score off!!

a fully fit team of mine would be,

cook
strauss c
bell
pietersen
ramprakash
flintoff
prior
swann
harmison
hoggard
simon jones

  • 84.
  • At 01:58 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • SFA wrote:

We should have three English teams:
1. To play at home in English conditions
2. To play on bouncy pitches (Australia, South Africa and West Indies) and finally
3. To play in Asian conditions (hot and humid)i.e. Indi, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangla Desh.

Otherwise, a time will come we will be beaten squarely by minows.

Why not select more British Asians for the third team?

  • 85.
  • At 02:31 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Sandy wrote:

Prior's character is the reason he should be given an extended chance. Every keeper drops them even Reed. Frankly I don’t see any one else with the grit to make a success of such a pressured role.

  • 86.
  • At 02:33 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Farees wrote:

We should have three English teams:
1. To play at home in English conditions
2. To play on bouncy pitches (Australia, South Africa and West Indies) and finally
3. To play in Asian conditions (hot and humid)i.e. Indi, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangla Desh.

Otherwise, a time will come we will be beaten squarely by minows.

Why not select more British Asians for the third team?

  • 87.
  • At 02:37 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • stevie hull wrote:

I have said it before and i'll keep saying it, Sri Lanka are experts at hammering the weak in Test matches but as soon as going gets tough they give up. Look at their pathetic performance against Australia where the supposedly amazing Murali got smashed around all over the park.

Best ever bowler? LMAO

The sad truth is that ENgland are a very poor test team. Sri Lanka are no better than average.

When India predictably crumble against Australia we can all give up on watching Test cricket because battling for number two is humiliating.

  • 88.
  • At 04:10 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Greg Marah wrote:

Bob Willis described Priors performance as an embarrasment and it was. The only reason he is in the team is that hes one of moores "favourites", which as a nation we hoped we wouldnt have anymore after Fletcher left as did Geraint Jones. Before the ashes Shane warne said he would rather have a wicketkeeper who would take catches and score 0 than wicket-keeper batsman who could get 50 but dropped one or two catches. This should be the end for Prior as well as Mustard and we should turn to Read (once again), Foster and Davies.

The seam bowling department lacks the threat that it did a few years ago. I was glad to see Harmison back but he just isnt as lethal as before. Flintoff of course is a big miss with his pace and bounce as well as Simon Jones and i wish them both luck to return but Chris Tremlett should have been taken to exploit some bounce, which Malinga managed to. All credit to Hoggard who gave his all once again but he wasnt that fit for the 3rrd test and it showed. The bowling needs to be built around him and lets hope he can get the magic 300.

Panesar had a shocker and realistically should have been dropped for the 3rd test to give Swann a chance. However, Panesar is not world class and people shouldnt rely on him. There was a chance here to give young Adil Rashid a chance and some experiecne and he would obviously have provided more strength in batting down the order if he had played. rashid is the future not Monty.

And finally the batting was abismal as no one bar Cook went on to score a century. People seem to be moaning about the "Geoff Boycotts" who take ages to bat as it is boring - well its 5 days not twenty20 so stop moaning because test criket is a "test" not slogging, if you want to watch that watch twenty20. However, i would rather see a top 5 of Geoff Boycotts than Pietersens as i have more confidence in them to hit large scores than someone like Pietersen who keeps giving his wicket away - Ian Bell also must learn. If it takes hard truths like being dropped to realise this then it must be done and i hope it will be.

So Mr Moores stop picking your favourites and pick players who are worthy e.g. Rashid, Read or Foster and Tremlett

  • 89.
  • At 04:33 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Greg Marah wrote:

Bob Willis described Priors performance as an embarrasment and it was. The only reason he is in the team is that hes one of moores "favourites", which as a nation we hoped we wouldnt have anymore after Fletcher left as did Geraint Jones. Before the ashes Shane warne said he would rather have a wicketkeeper who would take catches and score 0 than wicket-keeper batsman who could get 50 but dropped one or two catches. This should be the end for Prior as well as Mustard and we should turn to Read (once again), Foster and Davies.

The seam bowling department lacks the threat that it did a few years ago. I was glad to see Harmison back but he just isnt as lethal as before. Flintoff of course is a big miss with his pace and bounce as well as Simon Jones and i wish them both luck to return but Chris Tremlett should have been taken to exploit some bounce, which Malinga managed to. All credit to Hoggard who gave his all once again but he wasnt that fit for the 3rrd test and it showed. The bowling needs to be built around him and lets hope he can get the magic 300.

Panesar had a shocker and realistically should have been dropped for the 3rd test to give Swann a chance. However, Panesar is not world class and people shouldnt rely on him. There was a chance here to give young Adil Rashid a chance and some experiecne and he would obviously have provided more strength in batting down the order if he had played. rashid is the future not Monty.

And finally the batting was abismal as no one bar Cook went on to score a century. People seem to be moaning about the "Geoff Boycotts" who take ages to bat as it is boring - well its 5 days not twenty20 so stop moaning because test criket is a "test" not slogging, if you want to watch that watch twenty20. However, i would rather see a top 5 of Geoff Boycotts than Pietersens as i have more confidence in them to hit large scores than someone like Pietersen who keeps giving his wicket away - Ian Bell also must learn. If it takes hard truths like being dropped to realise this then it must be done and i hope it will be.

So Mr Moores stop picking your favourites and pick players who are worthy e.g. Rashid, Read or Foster and Tremlett

  • 90.
  • At 05:11 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Manharlal Ratilal Muni wrote:

It is difficult to defeat Shri Lanka
team in Shri Lanka

  • 91.
  • At 06:10 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Jaswant Singh wrote:

Jonathan, I readily concede that you try very hard to be unbiased and objective, a feat very difficult to achieve.

I am glad you made references to the silly behavior of some English cricketers, should you not have done this during the India matches when Collingwood and Prior sank to unbelievably low levels of behavior?

  • 92.
  • At 06:28 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Peyriere wrote:

So, the knives are out, and blame judicially(?) apportioned.
True the batsmen did not perform well enough.
Certainly, the fielding (mainly the batters) was pretty abysmal.
Much has been said of the bowlers' inability to take 20 wickets. Exactly how are they supposed to accomplish that, when so many chances are missed and catches dropped? What do you expect? Miracles?

  • 93.
  • At 06:58 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Patrick Allen wrote:

It's definitely time to get Ramprakash in, he has proved over the last few years that he can score BIG runs. We need more of our top order to score hundreds and I think Ramprakash will show them the way. I know his test record is not great but I think if he had been playing for last 5 years his record would be much better, the bowling attacks across the world are considerably weaker than they were when Ramps was consistently in the team. My England XI for the 1st test against New Zealand would be: 1) Cook 2) Vaughan 3) Bell 4) Pietersen 5) Ramprakash 6) Collingwood 7) Prior 8) Sidebottom 9) Hoggard 10) Harmison 11) Panesar.

  • 94.
  • At 07:43 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • dokins wrote:

People keep calling for Mark Ramprakash - he is a fine dancer but his Engalnd record is poorer than most of the batsmen that are being discussed to sack! What short memories people have!!
I think that that the bowlers are the main problem, when they are fit, as they cannot bowl out a team twice even when the first time they have them at 45-5!
They are much the same as each other and Steve Harmison hardly bowls anywhere near the pace he did. Don't forget that Simon Jones was probably the reason why the Ashes were won in '95, not who we have available now

  • 95.
  • At 08:18 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

england had alot of time to prepare for this tour while sri lanka were getting a right beating from easily the best side in the world.

where did that preparation go?

the first day of the 1st test was where it went.nowhere else.In the final test that just lacked ideas and looked tired but how is that supposed 2 happen if they have been training hard before the series began.

Pietersen is our best batsmen but he knows it and this arrogance is shown in his batting recently, he didnt pass 50 once this series.

Sri lanka is a hard place to tour but england played poorly throughtout and need 2 improve if they are going 2 compete with australia,sri lanka,pakistan,india,south africa etc.

Plans have 2 be made now for ashes 2009

  • 96.
  • At 08:40 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • Jehangir Pocha wrote:

England had their noses rubbed in the mud by a clearly superior team -- superior in all departments of the game. There is absolutely no possibility that they could have won with the present team. England does not have the God-given right to win. They just don't have the capacity to do so. One's heart bleeds for the poor delicate souls who cannot play in a hot climate. How do the Sri Lankans manage to play in a climate as miserable as England's ?
Forget the natural conditions, it is the conditions between their ears that make the English born losers.

  • 97.
  • At 10:55 PM on 23 Dec 2007,
  • gilchrs wrote:

I am certain that to most readers this will be lost in the annuals of a sea of comments... but here goes.

Aggers, you are precise as always. It's not only umpiring decisions that tend to even out, but also results- I remember England losing at Trent Bridge last year and feeling cheated out of a series victory.

To be honest, Sri Lanka might feel the same way- they should have won 2-0, and could have won it 3-0.

As for England in the future, I like Moores, so give him time. The players haven't performed, and Sri Lanka taught our batsmen how to value your wicket. As for Monty, he's still our best spinner, but I can't help thinking if he was Australian he would be further developed by now.

Keep up the good work, merry christmas to all.

  • 98.
  • At 12:52 AM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Ian Fraser wrote:

It's not Freddie Flintoff's indiscretions that are the problem; it's his fitness. I seem to remember one Frederick Seward Trueman regularly getting himself into trouble one way or another, while Denis Compton was a chain smoker who regularly turned up late for matches. But they were great cricketers, something the present side is short of. I don't see many waiting in the wings, however, and I expect this team more or less to face NZ. Only Bopara definitely has to be dropped.

  • 99.
  • At 04:11 AM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Aaron Phillips wrote:

Anyone else think England got exactly what they deserved. Mediocre team beaten by a team more hungry and focused. English sports teams live in the glory of the past. That they received an MBE for winning a Test series (just) against the worst Aussie team to tour for 20 years tells its own story. Imagine what would have been bestowed if they won the World Cup? They lost at home to India and now away, on top of thumping by Aussies. England are not a great team and are rightly in lower half of pecking order. Even their best batsman's not English. Bet KP wishes he'd done Down Under now. Flintoff is not World class (one good series aginst Aussies) and Harmison has no control. Cook and Bell decent but not outstanding. Monty needs time. Hoggard is only consistent performer. County xricket is an awful system for producing world class players. If you're a county player, the selectors must feel you've got England potential. How many dirt trackers are currently in County cricket with no chance of playing internationally. Australia would have culled the tripe at a much earlier time

  • 100.
  • At 09:31 AM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • stevie hull wrote:

Aaron agree with much of what you say but why do people keep going on about KP 'not being English'. He may have be brought up in SA but has been in England for a while now AND his MUM IS ENGLISH. That makes half his blood English at least.

Panesar is overrated and will disappear from the Test scene too. Rashid looks better bet and can bat too. Teams have worked Panesar out.

  • 101.
  • At 09:35 AM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Roshan Fernando wrote:

Er, about the humidity and the heat, two hundred years ago and for 150 years from then onwards your ancestors had no such complaints when they saw the bounty that was Sri Lanka. Global warming has not increased the heat nor the humidity by any significant extent.So then why the whining about it all. Of course England were the underdogs in this series - no not just because the series was held in Sri Lanka but due to the fact that the Lankans are among the best three teams right now.

Contrary to a few derisive comments the Sri Lankans are only challenged by South Africa - as of now for the right to the tag of second best team(although India may well stake a claim next year). By the way the Sri Lankans, after playing badly in the First Test in Australia, challenged them almost to the full in that exciting run chase of over 500 runs in the Second Test (no other test side would have come anywhere close and it was only Koertzen's awful umpiring error, that cost Sangakkara's wicket when he was in the 190s, which sawed off the challenge). They eventually reached 400+ (in the fourth innings in a test in Australia) and lost by just 96 runs.

So England were lucky to get off at 0 - 1. Lucky not just because of the weather but also due to some unbelievably naive decisions by the Sri Lankan selectors especially in the spin department. Any man on the street (Sri Lankan streets) would have included another spinner to partner Murali - Malinga Bandara, the leggie, would have been the obvious choice. Because it is common knowledge that to beat touring non-sub-continent sides spin is the best weapon. But they chose to meet the batsmen from the land of seam and swing with seam and swing from the land of spin. Vaas, a proven sub-continent specialist and Lasith Malinga were obvious pace bowling selections but not a third seamer in Dilhara Fernando.

Also isn't it very unfair to bash Monty just because he did not match Murali's figures. By the way Murali did not exactly run through England either - in the last two tests. Murali is "the" world record holder and a veteran playing in his own land whereas Monty was firing away at batsmen who are quite accomplished against spin. By the way someone ventures that had Monty been of Australian stock he they would have nurtured him to be a force by now. I'd like to ask who was the least Aussie offie who set the world on fire. Bruce Yardley, back in early 80s, was the only one who even came anywhere close and that was also for a very short time.

As for Pietersen, well he does get carried away with his over-confidence thing alright but don't blame him for getting out to Malinga. "That" delivery is in my reckoning "the" most brutal delivery ever bowled by a Sri Lankan bowler in 25 years of test cricket and as someone else mentioned it ranked alongside the type of projectiles sent on hapless batsmen 25 years ago by those men from the Caribbean - Roberts, Garner, Marshall, Holding and co.

  • 102.
  • At 11:08 AM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Mike Hicks wrote:

Much said again about Prior. I was not a fan but without him and with Bopara clearly in need of further time to develop the batting looks very weak,and his batting did come on in this series. Shah should have played rather than poor Bopara and I think will in NZ. So, I would keep Prior, for now at least and put Ravi back in the one day side whilst he learns. What we really need is a fully firing Freddy Flintoff back, Strauss to re-find his form and Simon Jones to complete his rehab by the time the aussies visit again in 2009. I have written off Tresco - but you never know. (And, as a boring 48 year old, by the way, loosing is what you do when you set something free. Losing (single o) is what you do when you don't win!)

  • 103.
  • At 11:32 AM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Richard Lumb wrote:

Suggestion of Bedi as a mentor for Panesar is excellent. Criticism of Monty's performance in this series is as exagerrated as the praise was when he was doing well. Everyone is allowed at least one poor series - unless your name is Harmison or for those with longer memories Flintoff at the start of his international career when you will continue to get picked anyway!

At times even Murali was ineffective in this series and he was pleading for the selection of a second spinner to take some of the pressure off him. If the all time leading wicket taker felt like that what additional pressure was there on Panesar? For the final test England should have been bold enough to pick Swann and missed a trick by failing to do so.

  • 104.
  • At 01:35 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Allan wrote:

The England team in Sri Lanka performed at just about the level to be expected, and their current ranking of 5th is just about correct. Let's hope for better times yes, but some realism is required too. We shouldn't be too critical of the management or the players / team for performing to about their level. Just take a look at the test averages for current England players against those from other teams. By my reading, only one batter (KP) averages above 50 (marginally!), no bowlers average below 30. Compare this with Australia, India, Sri Lanka - I haven't bothered to look at them all - but by this measure England are less good than the teams above them, and better than the ones you'd expect (e.g. W Indies, B'desh). It's this measure that counts - having some players of real consistent class to call upon to perform. England probably over-achieved in 2005, but even at that we have lost many key players of experience since then. Let's hope the team does develop into a better unit, but at present we are at least one step down the ladder from the top teams, which is just as the stats tell us.

  • 105.
  • At 03:00 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Gareth wrote:

good article aggers
i think we as british fans are way too fickle in all sports. one week its oh look at KP getting 200 now the knee jerkers are calling for his head. same goes for monty,strauss(what happened to everyone saying that he couldnt bat a month or two ago), Flintoff etc. On the wicket keeping i think it should be one of foster,ambrose or davies. Read has had two chances at test level and failed both times he is a poor batsman at test level. dont fast track adil rashid or he will go the same way as Bopara has. persist with broad because he is one for the future. get off their backs it doesnt help with the knee jerk reactions yes some dead wood has to be left out but please lets not say that Robert Key and Mark Ramprakash are the future of English test cricket.

  • 106.
  • At 03:04 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Dave Winstanley wrote:

For once, the excuse that England were a young and inexperienced side in alien conditions seems at least partially valid....but to be honest, the England side has now spent enough time 'learning lessons' and 'taking positives' from matches: the time is ripe for some results. The real sobering thought is that, conditions notwithstanding, the Sri Lankan team that we fared so poorly against has just been hammered by Australia. Muralitharan apart, no one will convince me that Sri Lanka are way ahead of England in terms of talent, though their batsmen certainly are in terms of application. With Harmison, Sidebottom and Tremlett at their best, the England attack has enough natural assets to worry any team in the world - but they need to be AT their best. Harmison is at a crossroads in his career right now: time is beginning to run out. Maybe he should take a gamble and re-model his action into one that gives him more chance of having everything in the right place at the right time more often - as he is a chest-on bowler, may I suggest Courtney Walsh's wind-up as a model?

  • 107.
  • At 03:47 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Paul Hannaford wrote:

Everyone has this perception that Chris read cannot bat, probably put about during the Fletcher era so that he could pick his buddy Geraint Jones.

Read most definately can bat as his innings of 240 last season will testify. How many wicket keepers in world cricket have made a higher score - ever?! He also has innings of 161 and 152 under his belt and a one-day best of 135 to his credit. A so-called non-batter does not get those kind of scores.

In comparison G Jones has a highest first class score of 108. Matt Prior has also made a double ton - 201 - but lets be honest, keeping wicket with a pair of frying pans in his hands is never going to work.

Prior has shelled at least one catch per match in his Test career and it is usually a big scoring batsmen. A "useful" 30 from Prior is never going to compensate for shelling a Jayawardene who goes on to get 200!!

The Selectors should get real and pick a wicketkeeper who is a quality wicketkeeper and stop picking players on the premise that they can "do a bit of both."

That was the Fletcher principle and if you follow that, you soon get found out.

We have never had the "lets give him an extended run in the side" for Chris Read that was afforded to Geraint Jones and Matt Prior.

Get Chris Read back behind the timbers and give him a good 3 Series to get himself established. He won't let you down and you will see the difference immediately.

Merry Christmas!

  • 108.
  • At 06:11 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • g jones for england!! wrote:

prior quite clearly isnt good enough as a keeper. i think it would be better if he played as a batsman only. is everyone forgetting how much of an improvement geraint jones made when he was with england. read has had 3/4 chances with england and blown them all! Jones will score more runs than read and there keeping levels arnt too far apart!! and people sayin KP should be dropped is ridiculous he is our only world class player every player has a run of poor form but he will be back!!

  • 109.
  • At 06:27 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Felix Rigg wrote:

Firstly, thanks to the BBC and the TMS team for their entertaining coverage.

As to the future: there is a lot of wisdom above. I for one don't agree that our wicketkeeper needs to be a good batsman. However, what is undoubted is that the wicketkeeper certainly needs to be good at keeping wicket! Why not simply pick the best 'keeper, whether or not he can bat?

A Test team needs six Test-class batsmen, one Test-class wicketkeeper and four Test-class bowlers. If any of the batsmen can bowl, that strengthens the side. If any of the bowlers (or the 'keeper) can bat, that also strengthens the side. However, if one is serious about winning matches (rather than avoiding defeat), one would not pick a mediocre seam bowler who can bat a bit over and above an outstanding express-paced wicket-taker. So why choose a less good 'keeper just because he can score some runs? In the context of the England side, what signal does picking a Prior or a Jones send to the top six specialist batsmen?

We were spoiled with Knott and Stewart, because both were excellent Test all-rounders. We were also spoilt with Bob Taylor, who whilst an ordinary batsman was peerless as a 'keeper who could, sometimes and if needed, at least hold his end up with the bat.

However, I think we got into a mind-set of thinking that the wicketkeeper needs to bat well and that his prime job - wicketkeeping - is not so important. I asked before what signal this sends the other batsmen. It is also worth considering what signal this sends to the bowlers!

Conversely, perhaps, I would encourage the likes of Vaughan and Pietersen to spend a little more time honing their spin bowling skills and for Vaughan himself to have the confidence to bowl himself or Pietersen. They certainly have the talent to be useful. In general, part-time bowlers can be effective (someone pointed out above that part-timer Collingwood was one of only two bowlers who actually hit the stumps in this series) and give the front-line bowlers a chance to rest and regroup if required.

Finally, does anyone else think that Sri Lanka must be just about the best fielding side in the world? Almost everything they did in the field was done with complete commitment and oozed competitive spirit. If nothing else undermined England, their fielding did because it underpinned their collective determination to win.

Happy Christmas all.

  • 110.
  • At 06:42 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • David wrote:

Aggers,

I agree with much of what you say, I usually do. As I said on Simon Hughes' ratings article, few players can really feel they did their best and gave 100%. Only Cook and Sidebottom, along with perhaps Bell and Hoggard could place themselves in that category.

Again, I do wonder whether the monotony of international cricket scheduling seriously erodes the pride players take in the privilege of representing their country, and thus, their passion and desire when the chips are down, or up for that matter.

I still say that Shah has the talent to be persevered with, rather than Bopara, whose time will come in a few years.

As for Prior, I know you are a fan, but as I have always said, to have a keeper who gets the odd 50 while dropping vital catches here and there, is the worst of all worlds. I would sooner have a specialist keeper - either Read or Foster - or batsman - Cook or Shah - wearing the gloves.

  • 111.
  • At 09:09 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • Dr.Cajetan Coelho wrote:

On home tracks Sri Lanka has an impressive track record. Mahela, Sangakkara, Chaminda Vaas and Murali are experienced guys whose hunger for runs, wickets and victories keeps mounting all the time. Well played Team Sri Lanka ! Best of luck to Team England in the coming year.

  • 112.
  • At 11:46 PM on 24 Dec 2007,
  • brando wrote:

Whatever way you look at it the simple fact is that Enlgland just don't have the couple of outstanding batsmen that other top nations seem to have. We have a number of mediocre ones who can on their day get to 50 but not 100. Even the West Indies have Chanderpaul a street above anyone in England. This is where KP has turned out to be so disappointing. There was a time when opposition wanted to get him out but now what does it matter? I still think Cooky will turn out to be the best as he learns quickly and has a gutsy determination not to get out unlike some of the others; he just needs time to learn the game. Belly has definitely improved but seems to think getting over 50 is okay, he really needs to become more cut-throat and hit the opposition hard when he is on top(ie a century). Not one English batsman puts fear into the opposition, unlike Australia, Sri- lanka and South Africa. Perhaps one of the problems is that we are not experienced enough on non-British wickets. After all most of the sub-continent players play in English county cricket but not vice-versa. Its little wonder therefore that our batsmen struggle abroad.

  • 113.
  • At 12:44 AM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • robert wrote:

With typical english peversity, many posters fortell the end of english cricket. You are ready to write off very good players after 1, maybe 2 series? Could it not be that england were below par - and Sri Lanka - who are a VERY good team - just did not let them play?

I expect England to beat NZ... the manner of whcih may tell us how they will fare against the South African's in the summer.

  • 114.
  • At 01:21 AM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • John Delf wrote:

Another disappointing series. As with the Ashes series in Australia, senior ECB management is the problem and, as usual, those in charge avoid accepting responsibility. We have a number of players that have played too much cricket on too many continents in too shorter time. The team will now play two Test series with NZ and a heap of one day games which will no doubt be followed by a rude awakening when SA
tour next Summer because by that time NZ will be the only team that we are prepared for....big yawns all around.( no disrespect to NZ who could well meat out some additional embarrassment). Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, KP look very stale and need a rest...so if this ridiculous schedule is to be continued these players should be rested and the likes of Rob Key, Chris Read, Mark Ramprakash, OA Shah and Jon Lewis should be given a decent opportunity to show what they can do. Its time for the ECB to take a long hard look at its own shortcomings..it is all too easy to blame the players.

  • 115.
  • At 06:56 AM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • Aaron Phillips wrote:

Top players should not ned to be rested. How many people would love to get paid (and handsomely) for playing sport? They are professional and should be treated as such. I agree they play a lot, but no-one gets tired when they're winning games. Australia play as much as the English but they don't whinge about being tired when (if) they lose. They go back and have a hard look at themselves t make them better. There is a hunger about them that says "I'm fighting for my place everytime I step on to the park". There's also discipline. If Flintoff was serious about playing he would have remodelled his action a long time ago. Finally all the talk of keepers frustrates me. He's there to take catches consistently If he can't do that then why is he in the side. Batters bat, bowlers bowl and keepers catch, unless they're Prior (is he sponsored by Teflon?)

  • 116.
  • At 12:10 PM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • TrueCricfan wrote:

Re comment 64.
Dear John,

True, England stank but it seems the fumes are coming from your end.

Lighten up and accept the ponging truth. Mahela is not the only person citing England's negativity. Several pundits and comments on this forum agree. Some even cite it as the reason for Monty's mediocre performance in SL.

And before you kick up a stink, again, no, I am not a Lankan but, to relate to your comment, one of the kettle clan, like you.

  • 117.
  • At 04:05 PM on 25 Dec 2007,
  • reg wrote:

Michael Vaughan has now passed his "use by" date.
He has been overated as a captain. The Ashes win in 2005 was due to the ability of Flintoff to take wickets at vital times - he was an inspiration to the whole team. It had very little to do with Vaughan's captaincy. Flintoff deserves another chance as captain if/when fit again because he can lift the entire team. Perhaps Collingwood can do the same pending Flintoff's return. Vaughan on the other hand seems to play carelessly at the very times he should be playing a "captains knock".

  • 118.
  • At 02:52 PM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • Rohan wrote:

GOOD to discover yr blog. Please also Visit

www.cricketviewer.com

and read updated cricket news everyday.
Recent posts:

Cricket has a long way to go in realising its Olympic dream,
Where are our hundreds? asks Hadlee,
Australian intensity will lift our game, says Laxman.
Vaughan: Losing can become a habit.
India look to big four against Australia,
Australia to impose lifetime bans for racism,
Bangladeshis pick up first tour win,
West Indies need a miracle,
Greedy Yousuf in Trouble,
Green top unlikely at MCG, says curator.

  • 119.
  • At 06:57 PM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • Sandipan Roy wrote:

Whatever skills Panesar has as a cricketer, everything will go out the window when Bedi trains him. Bedi was one of the most unsuccessful coaches in the annals of world cricket. ECB hopefully doesn't do this mistake by hiring Bedi.

  • 120.
  • At 08:51 PM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • Bala Superamaniam wrote:

Panesar does not need Bishen Bedi's help. Panesar is a popular sportsman with a positive approach to the game.Bedi has behaved badly off the field with his unprofessionsl comments about Murali's action,after his action had been cleared by the ICC.This clearly shows that he is totally biassed in his approach.It is not in England's interest to have a person of this type coaching a very good bowler who could be a threat to Indian batsmen in the future.

  • 121.
  • At 08:53 PM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • Bala Superamaniam wrote:

Panesar does not need Bishen Bedi's help. Panesar is a popular sportsman with a positive approach to the game.Bedi has behaved badly off the field with his unprofessionsl comments about Murali's action,after his action had been cleared by the ICC.This clearly shows that he is totally biassed in his approach.It is not in England's interest to have a person of this type coaching a very good bowler who could be a threat to Indian batsmen in the future.

  • 122.
  • At 10:22 PM on 26 Dec 2007,
  • Nick B wrote:

Give England a chance! They may have underperformed in this one series but it's completely non-sensical to write off much of the squad. Sri Lanka are a good team on their home turf. As for the England players: Panesar should not be lambasted for a poor series just as equally as he should not be lauded as England's saviour for his decent performances. Equally with Prior. The poor chap just can't seem to win. No keeper has been able to replace Steward and it's about time the English public accepted that Steward was an exception. Prior either gets a good knock with the bat and is criticised for his keeping or the other way around. He needs to perform with perfection simply to avoid calls for him being dropped. Stewart was a mediocre keeper when first selected but was able to improve in his time behind the stumps and likewise Prior (at the age of 25) should be allowed time to settle.
The English public needs to accept that we cannot win every series and that these calls for the abandonment of talented players at the first sign of weakness will not do any good for the team in the long-run by building up impossible expectations. No wonder Panesar and Prior can't match the anticipation of the fans.

i agree with most things except for a few. Cook is the best batsmen we have got by a mile except as he is the only one who can score 100's.

Anderson i still think is a class player and didnt deserve to get dropped after that and it showed because we bowled rubbish. Remember the india one day tour he was incridible

our tail is too long so proir should stay look at jawayadens average wow! 158 our highest cook 48

  • 124.
  • At 04:27 AM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • Aaron Phillips wrote:

Comment 122. That is the very reason England are not in the top half of the pecking order of World Cricket. The public should not "accept that we cannot win every game."?? Why not?? The players should never have this mentality. If you step on the field believing you can't win every game then you shouldn't be playing. Catch an Aussie saying that in the dressing room and he'll be out faster then a Tait toe-breaker. England should be aiming to win everygame they play, if not then accept mediocrity and know they'll get stuffed on a regular basis.

  • 125.
  • At 03:48 PM on 27 Dec 2007,
  • bhui wrote:

I think a better bet for monty would be Prasanna. He had amazing control over flight and bamboozled batsmen on good batting tracks. Looking at montys performance he seems to have lost that ability to control the filght of the ball he showed early on. Maybe the one day scene is to blame. Whatever the ECB monty looks like he need some guidance and i think the ECB should go for erapali prasanna

  • 126.
  • At 09:32 AM on 31 Dec 2007,
  • Gavin wrote:

In terms of timing, winning the Ashes in 2005 was probably not the best thing for English cricket, and probably the best thing that could have happened to the Aussies.

Gavin

  • 127.
  • At 06:24 AM on 02 Jan 2008,
  • Roy Bagshaw wrote:

England have a rubbish captain and play rubbish cricket.For years so many people have been asking them to change their attitude and play to win, instead of seeking a draw.

  • 128.
  • At 10:35 AM on 02 Jan 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

I'm starting to wonder if Peter Moores is the right man. Like football, a good domestic coach mught not be a great International coach and vice versa.

Moores reminds me a bit of Steve Maclaran - very media friendly but can he really get in there and make the team great?

But please can we all do one thing - stop saying "when Tres/Jones/Flintoff come back it will all be ok". We have to move on - look at the Aussies. They lose McGrath and Warne forever and they just carry on winning.

  • 129.
  • At 04:54 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Ray Smith wrote:

It's only a game of cricket people, we don't have a devine right to win. the players will give there all - that's all we can expect. if they are not good enough and we are not producing them, lower your expectations and enjoy the ride.

some of these comments are insane anyway! Vaughan, KP, Bell.. are the BEST we have so back them please.

i mean, the best blogs have come from aussies so far!! that can't be right! lets get real.

  • 130.
  • At 12:05 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Andy G wrote:

Charles Coleville says there is a 'major surprise' coming up in the England squad announcement.

Ramps?

  • 131.
  • At 03:44 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Ronnie Nathanielsz wrote:


The one thing that has always imprssed us with the cricketers of Sri Lanka and England is that they take the good decisions by the umpires with the bad and when they are out they walk and even if not out and given out, they accept it.

When Andrew Symonds admitted he was out when 30 but he didnt walk it clearly showed the difference of the Aussies who want to win at all costs and most of the rest of the world. Symonds went on to add over 130 runs after that which made a monumental difference to the outcome of the test against India.

If Harbajan is facing disciplinary action for alleged racist remarks and faces a ban shouldnt Symonds face some sort of disciplinary action for degrading the sport with his unsporsmanlike conduct. Just asking.

  • 132.
  • At 03:46 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Ronnie Nathanielsz wrote:


The one thing that has always impressed us with the cricketers of Sri Lanka and England is that they take the good decisions by the umpires with the bad and when they are out they walk and even if not out and given out, they accept it.

When Andrew Symonds admitted he was out when 30 but he didnt walk it clearly showed the difference of the Aussies who want to win at all costs and most of the rest of the world. Symonds went on to add over 130 runs after that which made a monumental difference to the outcome of the test against India.

If Harbajan is facing disciplinary action for alleged racist remarks and faces a ban shouldnt Symonds face some sort of disciplinary action for degrading the sport with his unsporsmanlike conduct. Just asking.

  • 133.
  • At 06:19 PM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • Brian Crowe wrote:

I'm amazed that Vaughan is retained as captain.I don't think that Vaughan has got the necessary leadership qualities. We need a captain who leads his team by example, enthusiasm and inspiration, Chris Adams comes to mind. As a batsman Vaughan might appear a class act when things are going well, but is he the same when things are going badly? It's easy to blame Prior for the Sri Lankan disaster, but others should share this blame - not least the captain Vaughan. How inspiring and imaginative was his captaincy? How inspiring was his batting? Until we get a captain who is a genuine leader of men, we will always be struggling.

  • 134.
  • At 06:32 PM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • Brian Crowe wrote:

I'm amazed that Vaughan is retained as captain.I don't think that Vaughan has got the necessary leadership qualities. We need a captain who leads his team by example, enthusiasm and inspiration, Chris Adams comes to mind. As a batsman Vaughan might appear a class act when things are going well, but is he the same when things are going badly? It's easy to blame Prior for the Sri Lankan disaster, but others should share this blame - not least the captain Vaughan. How inspiring and imaginative was his captaincy? How inspiring was his batting? Until we get a captain who is a genuine leader of men, we will always be struggling.

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