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England show character to win series

Jonathan Agnew | 04:52 UK time, Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Napier: day five of third Test - Outrageous hitting by Tim Southee - the 19-year-old New Zealand debutant – damaged bowling figures and delayed England’s victory, but it didn’t dampen their celebrations.

To come back from 1-0 down in a three Test series is always a tall order.

England owe as much to the character of the players and the boldness of the selectors as they do to the Wellington groundsman who defied Daniel Vettori’s orders and prepared a pitch that suited the tourists.

Without that, and Tim Ambrose’s fighting hundred there, the comeback might never have happened.

On the plus side of the tour, Ryan Sidebottom emerged as the difference between the bowling attacks of both sides, taking 24 wickets in the series...

Always hostile and accurate, he is enjoying a remarkable year and would now be the first bowler’s name on England’s team list.

Ambrose kept wicket tidily to go with his century and fifty. Wicket-keepers will always make mistakes – Brendon McCullum had a dreadful series behind the stumps but no one is sacking him – and England need to give Ambrose a proper run.

The England players enjoy a sing-song with the Barmy Army after winning the Test series

Kevin Pietersen came through a lean trot to score an excellent ton in the final Test and Andrew Strauss overcame his demons to hit his highest ever Test score.

Let’s hope that he uses that as a springboard to return fully to his best in the summer. Ian Bell scored one of the most beautiful hundreds I have seen, and Monty Panesar emerged from a disappointing winter to spin England to victory in Napier.

His 6-126 are his best figures in Tests, and will remind him of what a fine bowler he can be when he is not stressed and over-hyped.

Stuart Broad had a superb run in the last two games and, as Michael Vaughan recognised, should become a leading all-rounder in international cricket at least for the next decade.

He will need looking after, and he will have off days as he is still learning, but he can certainly bat at number eight and he should put on a yard of pace.

James Anderson remains an enigma, and Matthew Hoggard will have his sights firmly set on regaining his place for the first Test of the summer at Lord's on 15 May.

Anderson’s control was all awry in Napier, which is generally the story of his career. Dangerous one day and expensive the next: unfortunately in a four man attack, captains need more reliability than that.

Steve Harmison needs to decide if he truly wants to devote the time and hard work required to succeed at this level. If he does, and he has a good start to the season, I see no reason why he could not return to the fold, and there will be questions raised about Vaughan continuing to open the batting.

I believe that it makes little difference between who bats at one, two or three – Vaughan has recently spoken of a preference for number three which would restore Strauss to the top of the order.

This series win has reaffirmed his leadership credentials – there is no doubt his players respond willingly to him – but he must get among the runs early in the summer.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 05:49 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Australian wrote:

Good point raised by Jon - see what I mean! When your top class bowlers get carted to all parts of a ground by a 19 year old swing bowler you know there are issues with skill. Why is it that there were know blinding yorkers bowled until the very end?

England will definately miss the pacey bowlers like Harmy and Flintoff to polish the tail especially against sides like Australia, India and SA. However both Harmy and Flintoff are inconsistent and Harmy in particular is a goose overseas.

Nz by the way is by no means a dominanant side - to only beat them 2-1 is at best satisfactory. What England have discovered is Broad and Sidebottom in this series. Sidebottom has become the leader of the attack and has done marvellously well. It reamins to be seen what the future of Anderson will be - I mean here is a guy who takes a five-for one day and the next day become a six hitting bowler. Why was he picked in the test side after a horrific one-day performance?

I think in the batting department the POMS will struggle the most especially against us. You NEED to convert starts into big big hundreds and I am afraid that is lacking big time...

  • 2.
  • At 06:15 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Mike Davis wrote:

Being a total NZ supporter in all sport and a mad cricket fan the main thing that stands out for me with this tour are,
the complete sportsmanship of you poms.
The honor your team gave Flem was wonderful.
As a fan of cricket,
watching the rubbish between 2 teams in australia recently,
compared with the cricketers of these two sides in just as a tense enviroment has been a joy too watch.
Both teams have played it like it should be.
BUT, see ya in May. Our turn me think.
Mike, Ashburton, NZ.

  • 3.
  • At 06:16 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Aryeh Reif wrote:

A good comeback in the series and hopefully a platform for steady improvement.

Harmison will not make a return, he has played his last Test - in my opinion a year or two too late.

Anderson will always be a fringe player - he does not have the control or temperament to be a regular.

Broad should retain his place. The big question is what happens when Flintoff retunes. Personally, I would maintain the 4 strike bowlers approach, going with Flintoff, Sidebottom, Broad and Pannesar. Flintoff could then bad at number 8 (I would leave him below Ambrose to start with, in order to reduce pressure and expectations), and Broad at 9. With that lineup, England suddenly bat VERY low down the order and also have a formidable bowling attack, with support from Collingwood.

  • 4.
  • At 06:18 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • The Incovenient Truth wrote:

england won the series against a glorified club side with 4 good players (one of whom didnt play at napier).

The nz attack that was plundered at napier would struggle to bowl out a top premier league club side, the remarkable fact was that they bowled england out for 250 on day 1, (possibly an even more inept effort than the Hamilton debacle) not that Kp, strauss and Bell racked up tons.

Individuals like Bell and Strauss can count themselves extremely fortunate to have had lots of chances to fill their boots against this village outfit, because it books them in for the home series which will present similar easy opportunities.

As for the bowling attack, NZ gifted their wickets on a regular basis, m bell, sinclair, and how arent close to being test class, whilst ellioot is one of the worst players ever to play test cricket. Anderson is a waste of space, will never be reliable enough for test cricket, sidebottom bowled well (though nothing out of this world) but shwed conisitency and accuracy gets wickets against ordinary players.

The tour should be rtemembered for one of the worst performances from an england side in living memory in hamilton, and for Ambrose turning the series and bailing out his senior batsmen on day 1 in wellington. Everything else that followed was, in all honestly, of a very lowly standard and test cricket only in name.

  • 5.
  • At 06:21 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Andy T wrote:

I think whilst Southee's batting could be deemed outrageous, you cannot fault a young guy for chancing his arm & heving some fun in his first tests..the only difference being that he will probably go back to domestic cricket for a while & learn his trade, whilst in England he would have a central contract.

Sidebottom has been excellent, but no better than Notts fans have seen for a while now, and proof that to excel at the highest level, you need to have gained experience over time to truly learn the art of bowling.

England's all-round performance in the Tests has, and will get better with a settled side, everyone will have off days, but it's the team performance that is important, and if they are winning, all the better.

  • 6.
  • At 06:33 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Dan in Brisbane wrote:

Australia, you seem to have a chip on your shoulder regarding England The Australian batting line up has of recent times been know to wobble and collapse leaving individuals like Hayden or Hussey batting with the tail (who of recent times have carried the can for Australia's runs especially in the VB series)

Englands performance in this series has been a mixed bag, however there have been some shining points as highlighted by Aggers and other points that requrie rectification (Andersons position & vaughnan's batting) the main thing is they are back on the winning road and will hopefully carry this through the english summer.

  • 7.
  • At 06:34 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • greg wrote:

Seeing as on day 3 it was said that Monty taking 5-70 would be "outstanding", one would have thought he would get a bit more credit than another reference to him being "overhyped". Lucky for England he didn't bowl like Daniel Vettori, eh?

Still, old story, and at least Vic Marks is becoming increasingly vocal in providing some balance in the TMS commentary box.

  • 8.
  • At 06:36 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • ocr wrote:

a little generous perhaps? Strauss, Bell & Pieterson played some ordinary cricket for most of the tour. Monty only came good the once and Vaughan was awful.

All of the above should be reminded that their next test could be their last

  • 9.
  • At 06:46 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Adam Neeves wrote:

I think England have done well to recover from one of the worst test performances in recent times over in Hamilton. It serves as a great springboard for the summer and something to build on.
Vaughan is a fantastic captain and at his best a world-class batsmen, however the fact he is a good cannot keep in the side indefinitely. He should and will start as captain but needs runs quick! I really do think Bell or Piesterson would make great captains and are waiting in the wings.

As for our batsmen Strauss saved him self with a brave knock in the last innings, as im sure he would have been dropped if he hadnt. He still needs early runs in the summer if he is to hold his place.

Cook, Bell and Pieterson are class and will be England fixtures for some time to come. Even if Cook failed to convert his starts he is class and will soon be hitting big scores. Bells century was pure class and he is capable of continuing this. Pieterson is my choice for the next captain as i think this will improve his game rather than hamper it.

Collingwood is a great all-round battler and always gives his best and i think people are finally starting to realise he can bowl a bit!

Ambrose looks promising although his keeping was a little suspect at times, his century was the turning point of the series and if he keeps batting like that he will get a long run in the team.

Bowling - Sidebottom! the guy with the funny name was a revelation, great series and Englands number one.

Broad - I like the look off this lad (barring the hair) at only 21 he has some great skills with ball and bat. He is only young but i think he can handle it and needs a good run, the pitches in england will give him a lot more to work than those in NZ.

Third Seamer???? I would use Flintoff if he can prove his fitness as he is a match winner especially with the ball, it would improve the batting line up a hell of a lot as well.

I dont rate Jimmy, hes far too incosistent and goes for more runs than most bowlers do in ODI's!

I think Hoggy will get and deserves another chance as he has been mr dependle over the years. He just needs some time in the middle with Yorkshire and he'll be right!

Harmy??? The guys had more chances than Pete Doherty, but for good reason, at his best he is Englands best bowler its just we havnt seen his best for long, ppl are starting to believe hes lost it. He needs to go back to Durham and start bowling consistently and who knows, he might get another chance.

Monty - Good young spinner and hopefully he has learnt some variation of Vettori as this is the weakest part of his bowling but should improve with age. Fielding is shocking and just not funny anymore. He really needs to sort this out.

Adil Rashid looks a great talent and can bat! Would you drop Panesar though?

  • 10.
  • At 06:50 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Andrew Spencer wrote:

Jonathan, please say something like "it's time Andrew Spencer won the lottery" because it seems that every time you single someone out in your blog, they go on to great things.

You singled out Strauss; he made his highest test score.

You singled out Panesar; he got his highest figures in test cricket.

Quite extraordinary!

  • 11.
  • At 06:52 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • TaffinBris wrote:

Anderson's bowling in this test was as bad as I have seen from him. He should be sent back to County cricket until he proves consistency throughout the new season, failing which he must not be offered a new central contract.

  • 12.
  • At 07:06 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Matt wrote:

Congratulations to England, but also well-played to New Zealand in the second innings - I reckon Tim Southee is one of the most exciting all-rounder prospects I've ever seen. Message to NZ coach/selectors, don't disenchant him (or your other genuinely good players like McCullum, Taylor, Oram and Vettori), like you've seemed to be so hell-bent on doing to so many of your other good players (Bond, Astle, McMillan, Fleming etc etc etc.)

I'm glad that some of the doom and gloom I felt after Hamilton has been lifted, although there are still glaringly obvious weaknesses that need to be resolved, as Michael Vaughan has recognised.

After the (career-saving?) performances by Strauss and Bell, we've now got to ensure that they are rewarded with selection again, at least for the upcoming home series vs. NZ. One of the things that has bugged me most in recent years has been the eccentric and unfair dropping of key players when they were in form (e.g. Panesar and Read at end of 2006, dropping Mascarenhas for the one-day games here after performing so well in the Twenty20) and rewarding out-of-form and underperfoming players with selection (e.g. Harmison and Strauss initially this series, though credit of course for him for turning things around and repaying that faith).

I'm still not convinced that Peter Moores is the correct choice of coach, but it would churlish to insist still on his removal now that England have won the series. Hopefully performances will continue to improve (and let's face it, things were still very shaky on occasions in these last two test matches). I guess we'll have a better idea if England really are moving in the right direction again by the end of the South Africa series.

  • 13.
  • At 07:12 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Russ wrote:

Typical England "supporters", people complain that they don't win, so they win, and people still complain!

Was this an australian style dominant performance? no, but was it a much needed confidence boosting win against a team playing at home (ALWAYS easier than playing away)? Yes.

Congratulations to the England team, it might have been ugly but you won and that's the only result that is ever remembered. The important thing now is to take this little bit of pressure release and practice, practice, practice as SA will be a much sterner test.

  • 14.
  • At 07:40 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • David wrote:

Congratulations to the boys for a gutsy peformance and a series win, BUT - it has only papered over some very large cracks.

Australia, South Africa and India would have trounced this New Zealand team, and there are still serious questions about both the batting and the bowling that have not been answered.

Just like the bowling line-up, there needs to be some bold decisions made about the batting before the next Ashes; there is far too much complacency. And as for the coaching, there is still much to prove.

Let's hope this win is the springboard for on-going development of the squad and the team. If not, England are going to suffer come the South African in the summer.

  • 15.
  • At 07:48 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Jackie Litherland wrote:

Jonathan Agnew goes up in my estimation for his appreciation of Bell's wonderful century. These days the six-hitters take the limelight. For once poetry was at the crease and those of us who prefer the artistry of beautiful stroke play had a feast from Bell. I hope it is long remembered.
Other commentators have been more curmudgeonly and downgraded the innings because Bell wasn't under pressure. The same who had created pressure by constantly complaining that he didn't get enough 100s.
Bell and Strauss buried NZ in the second innings and Bell's run rate took the pressure off his partner too.
Thanks Jonathan. You've raised the standard for fair comment and fair play.

  • 16.
  • At 07:54 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • shriram wrote:

It was a good performance from England in the last 2 tests and they did deserve to win the series. Broad and Monty were particularly impressive in the last 2 days. Broad's bowling reminded me of McGrath's assault on Atherton, with his continuous short pitched bowling. The future looks good for both the teams, both having naturally talented youngsters in their teams. For New Zealand How, Ross Taylor, McCullum, vettori & southee stood out with their performances and each of them have many years of cricket ahead of them.

The Australian,if I were you, I would be more worried about how australia will cope with losing 2 straight home series and their best bowlers. The team that you have is far from the enviable team of the late 90s to 06-07. To be fair the bowling attack australia have now is rather average and can now safely be said that is at best 2nd best to south africa.
I am looking forward to the ashes 2009 and see how the team will fare with hayden also likely to retire by then. Australia can be written off in their next tour to India as they will have no class spin attack.

  • 17.
  • At 07:57 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

I cant believe some people. England have shown grit & determination to come back to win the series and all people can do is pick out faults. Yes, mistakes were made during the series, even the apparent god-like australians make mistakes in series. But England have played some good cricket to claim victory. Sidebottom taking 24 wickets, centuries from Bell, Pietersen, Ambrose and Strauss, Monty taking career best figures on a pitch that supposedly would offer nothing to spinners

Couple of tweaks to the line up and maybe (stress maybe) a change of captain and England can push on. England should be praised for showing the strength of character that many doubted they lacked

Well done England!!


Was no one else watching Southee's performance with an anxious eye on the runs required board? At the rate he was scoring he brought NZ to within half a dozen overs from winning! Thank goodness for his misguided decision to 'trust' the tail and take the single. I note that he has set a record for the fastest Black Cap to 50 runs. Why is it that so many records are set by the opposition against England?

It is NEVER a comfortable experience being an England supporter (in any sport!!).

  • 19.
  • At 08:25 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Paul Davison wrote:

Have to agree totally with Mike Davis at point 4. How refreshing to see a series with little or no sledging, or pouting or snarling at the opposition.

Whilst the cricket hasn't always been inspiring at least the two teams have shown each other, the umpires, and their audience a bit of respect. More of the same PLEASE!

  • 20.
  • At 08:34 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Pete Dhadda wrote:

Message to ocr (No.9)
This message has to take the biscuit -we have just won a Test series, the players you mentioned performed and helped us to win and you would want them dropped.
Quite extraordinary - I am amazed at some people's lack of insight, thankfully this is not shared by the majority. Go back to watching the football and leave cricket to the intelligent supporter.

  • 21.
  • At 08:35 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Alan Thompson wrote:

James Anderson has match figures of
19 overs 1 maiden 1 wicket 153 runs.
Thats an average of 8 per over.
When will people wake up and realise that he is not consistant enough to be a test match bowler ? Thanks to Duncan Fletcher he has tried to learn his trade as an England squad member.Its time he went back to Lancashire to learn how to bowl consistantly.

  • 22.
  • At 08:36 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • joey blinez wrote:

Well done england but let's not get carried away, NZ are a very average side with a sprinkling of class players.

Consistency is the key now for england, we need to maintain that level against NZ and SA this summer, only then will we see the green shoots of recovery.

Just wanted to make a comment about Panesar, we know his fielding is poor, he will never sort it out though. We need to accept it and minimise his exposure through practice.

In addition, wanted to make a comment about Broad who now for me should be a regular. This lad has a load of potential and now needs a good run. We have our new no.8!! Add Freddie to the mix in place of anderson and we have a side which bats very deep and takes wickets. Isn't that what we've always wanted?

  • 23.
  • At 08:49 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Jason J wrote:

ocr wrote:

a little generous perhaps? Strauss, Bell & Pieterson played some ordinary cricket for most of the tour. Monty only came good the once and Vaughan was awful.

All of the above should be reminded that their next test could be their last

Are you having a laugh? That would be three of the four century makers and a bowler who took 6 wickets at a very reasonable rate on an unhelpful pitch(until Southee came in and had a swing, by which point the match was gone). Why not go the whole hog and threaten to get rid of Sidebottom as well?

The only thing you said that made any sense was Vaughan. We have a lot of competition for batting places at the moment, and quite frankly, if Strauss carries on battling like he did in Napier, Vaughan is the weak link in our top order. Pietersen is a better part-time spin option, and I don't think Vaughan brings anything extra special to the side in terms of captaincy, or certainly not enough to warrant sacrificing one of our top order batsmen, so perhaps it's time we 'get ruthless' with our batsmen as well as our bowlers.

  • 24.
  • At 09:00 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Dr. Cajetan Coelho wrote:

Congratulations to England.

NZ put up a brave fight in the final innings but the huge target would have been difficult for any side in today's fast changing cricket, where patience, defence and staying powers at the crease look alien to many of our international cricketers.

A big thanks to Jonathan and colleagues for their fine coverage of the series.

  • 25.
  • At 09:05 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • James Emmerson wrote:

I say well done Tim Southee. That was fantastic hitting and by a nautical mile the most entertaining part of the most entertaining day of the entire series, which prior to today had been dreary, negative and instantly forgettable. Look forward to seeing him in Eng in May.

Did others like me also notice the attitude of the NZ ground authorities, which was excellent? At every interval spectators were allowed onto the outfield. Myriad games of cricket took place, others inspected the square, others strolled around...what a refreshing thing to see. There were no overbearing stewards, just a handful to ensure the pitch was protected, and they got no aggravation at all from the well behaved crowds, for whom such a thing as being allowed onto the ground will have made a huge difference to their day. There was absolutely no problem clearing the ground when a session was due to start either.

What chance I wonder of a simiarly enlightened attitude in England this summer?

  • 26.
  • At 09:22 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Larry Leopard wrote:

With some necessary tweaks - Anderson out for Hoggy etc. the proof of the pudding will only be evident after the saffa series - lets wait and see.

  • 27.
  • At 09:29 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • William wrote:

Third test next winter in India cancelled - cancel the tour England should not play two test matches series against anyone.

  • 28.
  • At 09:40 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Iain, England wrote:

We all know that Bell and Strauss basically got themselves picked for the English Summer.

IF (big if) they had not who would have replaced them?

Overseas tours do not give the squad chance to play so no one sees them in 'pressure' situations.

Scenario - First Test at Lord's 1 or 2 of our batsmen are injured/ill who comes in?

Bowling seems as though Hoggard, Harmison and Swann could come in if there are bowling injuries

  • 29.
  • At 09:45 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • satjit wrote:

Great result to the match and the series. However, underlying problems remain. The batting is still some way off where it ought to be and Andersen is not consistent. Hoggard could be back soon.

On the matter of bowling, there appears to be little mention of the fact that NZ made 430 odd in the fourth innings. This is an NZ team which will just not roll over. We could learn a thing or two from them.

All in all, a good, but not great result for the tour.

  • 30.
  • At 09:45 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • teassoc wrote:

That innings of Southie was starting to look a bit of a threat but that was without Sidebottom bowling. Southie drew confidence from hitting Anderson all over, tried it with Monty and then Broad when he came on.

He knew he had nothing to lose and could trust the pitch. Made Anderson's bowling figures look even worse and showed up Monty's lack of variety. At least Broad had some kind of idea where to bowl.

  • 31.
  • At 09:55 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Cass wrote:

I am sure I was not alone in screaming "bowl at the stumps" at the TV in the wee small hours of this morning. Credit to Southee for his little cameo but I feel sure he would not have lasted as long had broad in particular, not tried to bounce him out and just slipped in some good length balls.

  • 32.
  • At 10:11 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • g wrote:

vaughn really has looked aweful at the crease and in the field during this series.

he's increasingly becoming a confidence captain - if he’s batting well he gets all chest-puffy and pointy in the field. when he’s on a bad run he gets noticeably downcast and sulky. his fielding used to be a real asset but now he’s slow between the wickets and his mobility has been greatly reduced.

to put it simply, he's just not as good at cricket as he used to be. probably because he doesn't WANT it as badly. it happens.

there are better cricketers for our team. one of them is owais shah.

appointing strauss captain would piss a lot of people off, but he'd probably be really good at it. he has the respect of the england dressing room, a reputation for unflappability, and the most important thing - he has courage.

  • 33.
  • At 10:12 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • The Major - Cayman Islands wrote:

It was at best a moderate performance by England helped by NZ gifting the visitors a number of crucial sessions.
Lessons learned? First, Harmison is psychologically unsuited to the demands of test cricket. Second, big hundred or no, Strauss's technique is fundamentally flawed and better bowlers than NZ will find him wanting. Three, Anderson is too inconsistent to be relied upon.
On the plus side, Ambrose must be given another test season - he will shine as will Broad. Vaughan to bat three.
Southee needed fast inswinging yorkers - but was a single such delivery bowled?

  • 34.
  • At 10:20 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • John Harrison wrote:

A great performance by England with solid performances from Ambrose, Broad, Sidebottom, Bell, Pietersen, Strauss and Panesar and Colly's sheer grit early in the series should not be forgotten or overlooked and greatly improved fielding from Cook.

I don't agree with this 'New Zealand are a club side' nonsense. They are a Test side and England can only beat what's put in front of them.

Consistency in selection is vital so the above named should all be able to relax, sure in the knowledge they have the first part of the summer in England colours. However Michael Vaughn's contribution was risible. He is no Brierly; we cannot have a 'specialist captain' role. (And I recall that Brierly was always in the firing line for his tepid batting - and silly hat.) Vaughn is a classy player, but needs big scores. Immediately.

Jimmy Anderson disappointed me a bit yesterday. The bouncer at Martin; the long hops; the failure to put one in the blockhole against the tailenders. Maybe it is time to either look at Hoggard again or - my preference - return to county cricket for a reliable, pacey bowler.

Lastly can Kent please sign Tim Southee. I can't imagine how great it would be to see that boy in twenty/twenty at Canterbury.

  • 35.
  • At 10:27 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • satjit wrote:

Central contracts are not the pannacea they were touted as. These guys need to play more county cricket. There is no substitute for being out in the middle.

  • 36.
  • At 10:32 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Dave Dunbar wrote:

Although I am extremely happy that England came through in the end, especially after being so bad in the 1st test, I have doubts over Michael Vaughan's captaincy.

I think he made some very odd decisions, especially towards the end of this match, when we should have pummeled New Zealand! Are decisions discussed in between sessions, or does he just make his mind up himself?

I also think his batting is suffering (although I think his best position is number 3).

Point 1 - why come out to bat yesterday morning, when the lead was already over 500? I can see that Strauss may have wanted to get 200, but when he go out, why expose the tail-enders to possible hostile bowling, which could have led to injury? Running for extra runs, when no more were needed, could have proved costly, and should not have been risked! Surely Vaughan should have had enough confidence in his bowlers with a 500 lead?

Point 2 - After lunch today, why was Jimmy Anderson given the ball to finish off their tail-enders? He has bowled so badly in this test, NZ might have been given false hope, especially with Anderson feeding Southee sixes all the time! He couldn't even bowl at the stumps when Martin, the worst batsman in the world, was facing! Look what Sidebottom did as soon as he came on! One over, game over!!

To get back to being up with the best, we need to be confidently & comprehensively beating teams like New Zealand, and allowing them to get back to almost within 100 runs at the end will give them confidence for their tour of England later in the year, when England should have been saying, 'You will have no chance this summer!'.

I hope England & Vaughan make the right decisions this summer, or the test series could be a lot closer then England fans would hope for!!

  • 37.
  • At 10:34 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

Solid Performance by England, the first test was shocking but we came back pretty well in the next two. I believe we will win much more comfortably when we play New Zealand in England.

  • 38.
  • At 10:37 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • MIckJ wrote:

Every England player these days seems to be determined to confuse the selectors with flashes of brilliance just as they are about to be written off. The inconsistency of our bowlers--Sidebottom aside--remains an enigma, and is maybe the strongest argument for change at the top. If Strauss is genuinely on the mend we have a proven candidate, and dropping Vaughan for Shah could hardly hurt the batting. If Flintoff comes back as a bowler then the options at the other end get a little easier. But that's a lot of ifs.

  • 39.
  • At 10:43 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • David Gratton wrote:

It was good job Vaughan decided to bat on in England's fourth innings as the Kiwi batsmen really took to some lame England bowling, Anderson's especially, when they batted a second time. I seem to recall them doing something similar during England's last tour to NZ when Astle scored the fastest ever double century. If England's batters are not collapsing then their bowlers are dross. Marks from 10 for the series:

Vaughan 3 (should be dropped)
Cook 4 (suspect outside off stump)
Strauss 5 (gutsy ton)
Bell 5 (lovely ton)
Pietersen 7 (world class player)
Collingwood 4 (not true Test class)
Ambrose 5 (his ton the difference)
Broad 6 (bags of potential)
Sidebottom 8 (values of line/length)
Anderson 3 (generally dross bowler)
Panesaar 6 (steady throughout)

  • 40.
  • At 10:55 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • satjit wrote:

Whilst having Flintoff would be great, it is importnat not to pin all hopes on him. He has had 3 operations and a long lay-off. In my experience, things are never the same. Even Vaughan is not the player he was post his knee problems.

Finally, let us take some chances on youth. In some countries Stuart Broad would be more typical of the team that he is at present. Smith was made S.African captain at 22.

  • 41.
  • At 11:17 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • s s uppal wrote:

what is it with so many monty bashers out there. The guy performs well on all kind of surfaces and deserves some praise.
We all know about adil rashid but i can just see it now that he will come in at no.8 score 20/30 runs like giles did take the odd wicket and everyone will be happy.20 Wickets in a game wins matches and monty does his fair share. let the top 7 get the runs and then the bowlers chip in with what they can.
Leave monty alone (i do agree his fielding is shocking)

  • 42.
  • At 11:19 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Roy wrote:

time for Vaughan to go back to his county and get some runs. He has quite clearly suffered as a result of his numerous injury breaks, and as Geoffrey would say 'needs more cricket'. Central contracts do not work in my view - Ryan Sidebottom has proved that brilliantly. Let the players play for their counties (instead of inviting the Aussies to get some practice over here - just as a matter of interest, how many English cricketers play in an Australian summer ?) Rant over

  • 43.
  • At 11:22 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • nick h wrote:

The simple fact is that now we have won the series Vaughan will never get dropped for the 1st test so there is no point even talking about it. However did anyone see/listen to his interview after the test? it was refreshing to hear him say/admit that his shot in the 2nd innings was "a hack" and that he was "pretty embrassed" walking off and more importantly he is going to be playing in Yorkshire's 1st match against Leeds Uni to try and find some form.

It is also a mark of any good side (in any sport) to be able to 'win ugly' so congrats to England for showing guts and determination to win the series for 1-0 down.

As for the players - Sidey was truely outstanding and i feel will be a world top 10 bowler before long. Anderson must go (for Onions or Hoggard). Broad looks a great prospect and will have learnt a great deal from being smashed around by Southee at the end. The batting should stay the same (as Vaughan wont be dropped) and see what happens then look at whos in form in County Cricket if Strauss or even Vaughan are struggling.

Finally on Flintoff i think he can only play (as many on here have suggested) if he is part of a 4 man attack (and bats at 8) and therefore he must be 100% fit - with a number of overs under his belt/ankle.

  • 44.
  • At 11:22 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Eric wrote:

I agree with the posters who have commented on the good spirit of the series and the way NZ cricket hosted the games. While the cricket was sub-par by both teams, a good time was had by all.

I don't agree with the comments that NZ is a club side/very average with few quality players etc. Any comments of that nature could just as easily be leveled at the England team. England's winning margins total 247, less NZ's win by 189 runs leaves the difference between the teams of just 58 runs. Those kind of comments are especially hard to take given the top 5 series batting averages:
82 NZL Southee
52 NZL Taylor
50 ENG Bell
50 NZL Fleming
46 NZL Vettori
Sidebottom was the only difference between these teams! Bring back BOND! Still, I'm glad the POMs seem to taking each game seriously, and not wafting on about 3-0 whitewashes.

Good contest thank-you England, looking forward to the next series!

  • 45.
  • At 11:24 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Chris B wrote:

Although there were several negatives during the tour i.e. Harmison (again!), inept batting at es and negative captaining but the main positive for me was that England were able to name an unchanged side for about the first time in at least a year. As we proved between 2004 and 2006 a settle side breeds confidence and team work. I agree that Andersons performance in the third test was below par and he now needs some serious work to hold his place for the Lords test but in sport someone elses loss is someone else's gain and the door is now firmly open for others. As it has been proved in this test series competition for places in bowling attack is a good thing and we may have the green shoots of a decent varied bowling attack starting to show, with Sidebottom, Broad, Flintoff ( if fit!), Monty and Hoggard/Anderson/Simon Jones(?)/Tremlett. As for all the New Zealand bashers on this notice board, true NZ are not the best test side in world but lets give them some respect for a nation with such small resources they continue to punch above their weight whilst in England we continue to punch below ours.

  • 46.
  • At 11:27 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Frank Clark wrote:

Vaughan great captain? I think not. We should have been bowling at NZ first thing on day 4 with helpful cloud cover, the game would have been over much earlier. Also, he should have given Broad the new ball like he gets for Notts and like Southee gets for NZ. KP's ton in the first innings was crucial, not so Strauss's in the second.

I hope Freddie comes back fit and strong as a bowler who can also bat, but surely give Shah a chance in place of Strauss or Vaughan, I think Shah is more of a test match player than ODI.

  • 47.
  • At 11:32 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • John K wrote:

The comments at #39 from Mr Gratton epitomise the negative and carping attitudes of some armchair critics. Collingwood not test class? He may not be the most elegant batsman in the world but his test average is 43 overall and 41 in the series, and has been England's most consistent batsman for the last three years while Pietersen, Cook and Strauss have been inconsistent to put it kindly. He's also probably the best fielder in the world at the moment, and a useful change bowler. What have you got to do to be test class?

  • 48.
  • At 11:32 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • stephen, durham wrote:

my 12 for the lords first test would be:

1. cook .
2. bell
3. ramprakash
4. pietersen
5. collingwood ( captain)
6. flintoff
7. mustard ( wicketkeeper)
8. rashid
9. broad
11. panesar
12. shreck

shreck would be the pace bowler to find out if he has got what it takes. if he hasn't then its back to plumkett or harmison. tremlett has not the fitness levels or the right character. i think he backs down to easy and does not want it enough. contrast his attitude with sidebottom's.
rashid is an excellent all round cricketer who will only get better.

  • 49.
  • At 11:51 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Adrian Kesby wrote:

One thing that I think should be mentioned regarding the New Zealand effort in all 3 test matches:
i) Chris Martin showed abmirable control, comitment and spirit. Good job for England that NZ barred Shane Bond as I think he could have destroyed our fragile top order even on the "flat" tracks that were produced
ii) They have found a gem in young Tim Southee
iii) Ross Taylor can improve and fill the void that will be left by the departing (and missed by us all) Stephen Fleming.

  • 50.
  • At 11:54 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

A good comeback by England in the end, but they should have drawn the first test. I don't really understand the inconsistency of this team. All of the top six average over 40, but you don't really trust any of them. The deviation from their average score seems to be greater than any other team. Bell looks so good when he plays well, but hasn't yet become as good a batsman as his skill and technique suggests. Vaughan just isn't converting at the moment. Strauss has one of the greatest starts to a test career in history, yet has been looking nervous. Really pleased for him with his 177. Anderson and Harmison are a mystery. Good comeback by Panesar and Broad and Sidebottom were excellent.

After day one you wrote: "I am not expecting him [Panesar] to take 5 for 70 (if he did, it would be outstanding)"
Just wondering whether 6 for 126 is still outstanding?

  • 52.
  • At 12:08 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

A win is a win but we will really have to seriously raise our game to beat South Africa. I believe we can. The main threat is Steyn but hes had his injury problems in the past and you never know.

I wouldn't pick Flintoff for the nEw Zealand home series. We need him fully fit and in good form for the South Africa series. So let him play half a season for Lancashire and prove his form and fitness.

I don't think we'll learn much from The New Zealand home series because as we've seen they are a very poor side.

The major question for me is Michael Vaughan. Great player and captain, but is it now time to move on. Peter Moores needs to stamp his authority on this team and choose his own captain. The possible candidates are Pieterson, Bell and Collingwood.

  • 53.
  • At 12:19 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Dave Raverson wrote:

Will we hear anything from the commentators, particualrly Botham who were constantly criticising Vaughan for not declaring earlier? Take away the 50 runs they added on that 4th morning, then take away the runs that were added on the evening before when people also wanted England to have a go with the new ball in fading light (perhaps 30-50 runs?), and hands up who would have been sweating when Southee was swinging on a flat deck?
When will these people realise that this man is our best captain for many a generation? I can't remember many of his decisions that have been questioned by the likes of Botham turning out to be bad ones, if any. Love the quote from Vaughan saying that Beefy just wanted an early flight home. Classic!

  • 54.
  • At 12:21 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • G.T wrote:

England v New Zealand
May 2008 - Lords

Hoggard-Panesar (depending on pitch)

Possibles to introduce (Rashid if Flintoff isn't ready or Panesar gets injured)
Jones (if he's fit and back to tip top form)
Harmmison (????)

  • 55.
  • At 12:37 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • tj wrote:

People talk about panesar learning to flight the ball and add variations to his game. My opinion is if he had the right guidance to teach him these things he would hsve learned. Panesar is a sponge absorbing all he is taught. Had he played in india he would have been a deadly bowler because he would have got guidance from the likes of bedi, prasanna etc. However he is learning from a man who has not even played an international game and does not know what if feels like to face a top batsmen on a pitch that is not turing. Panesar will need to add to his game against quality opposition and in order to do so he needs to learn from someone who konws the art of spin and the pressures of international cricket. The ECB should look at this and help monty.

  • 56.
  • At 12:56 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Hinders wrote:

Response no 4 from "The incovenient Truth" sic.

If you can't spell your own username correctly, why should anybody take your comments seriously.

The end.

  • 57.
  • At 12:58 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • C.B wrote:

I think everyone has made valid points regarding this tour, yes it may be seen as a failure when it comes to englands batting and their ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

However i do feel that people are focusing to much on the negatives. So what if Monty only came good at the end, and that strauss only picked up a century at the last minute, they still managed to do it.

As i was watching the interviews with coaches players etc last night one major point came out of it.

'England are now an emerging side'

Compare the team for this tour to teams from 2/3 years ago, they are practically unrecognisable. We have to resign ourselves to the fact that at this point in time we wont be mixing it with the heavyweights, in my opinion around the world and in the england camp we are seen as a team with potential that are yet to find the right mix and to fully bed down into the side. Although it is fair to say that players such as Pietersen, vaughan and strauss should be leading by example, however everyone goes through lean spells, there is no player in the world that at some point in their career did not suffer from a loss of form and confidence, the only difference is they bounced back and found form and runs again which in turn meant that their dip in form was quickly forgotten.

The real summer for england starts when S.A arrive this is where we can really find out at what weight we are punching at. Flintoff should be forgotton about for the return tests against N.Z because it would be a wasted series for him, yes he may return and strike with a 5 for and score a quick fire 50 but it will not be a true reflection of his fitness.

  • 58.
  • At 01:00 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • SL2 wrote:

Can someone explain to me why we can get New Zealand in a test match but always lose to them in a 1 day match.

If New Zealand are limited as a cricket side surely we should have little problem beating a one day match game, No???

  • 59.
  • At 01:06 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

G.T., you mention Jones as a possible for the summer but I regretfully think that Jones will never be the same. Maybe his switch from Glammy to Worcs will provide something to aid his recovery but I wouldn't be surprise if he's lost a yard of pace on the ball when he does return.

And as a general point about Rashid, but is this kid really ready for the step up to Test cricket this early? Sure, he can hit runs, but is it not a different kettle of fish against some of the best in the world. I do agree, however, that he looks like someone capable of being a star in future years.

  • 60.
  • At 01:31 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Leigh Wighton wrote:


Why do England beat NZ in tests but not in one-dayers. Easy really. Look at how many test matches NZ have played over the last 2-3 years compared to England. You'll find there's quite a disparity. NZ have played A LOT of one-day cricket in the meantime and for the past 6 years or so have been been consistently pretty good at it. They are currently ranked 3rd in the ICC one-day rankings.

England in one day cricket? For the past 10 years now they tend to play the game as if it's some kind of brand new format as they tend to play pretty cluelessly. I don't know why, but in 50 over cricket, England's tactics and play go out of the window somewhat.

  • 61.
  • At 01:41 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Pierre Taco wrote:

Although I worry about the brittleness of our top order, I'd say the prospects for our tail are looking increasingly good. Rashid needs to come on a bit as a bowler, but his CC average is just a shade under 40. Imagine a tail of Rashid, Flintoff, Broad and Sidebottom! In such a scenario we could probably afford to play another bowler in place of one of the top 6 and still have an enviable batting lineup.

  • 62.
  • At 01:44 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Pierre Taco wrote:

Although I worry about the brittleness of our top order, I'd say the prospects for our tail are looking increasingly good. Rashid needs to come on a bit as a bowler, but his CC average is just a shade under 40. Imagine a tail of Rashid, Flintoff, Broad and Sidebottom! In such a scenario we could probably afford to play another bowler in place of one of the top 6 and still have an enviable batting lineup.

  • 63.
  • At 01:44 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Frank Booth wrote:

jonathan says "Ambrose kept wicket tidily to go with his century and fifty. Wicket-keepers will always make mistakes – Brendon McCullum had a dreadful series behind the stumps but no one is sacking him – and England need to give Ambrose a proper run."

All this is true but that could equally apply to Prior. I'm not sure what Ambrose brings to the side that Prior didn't: they're both good batsman who aren't in the top class as keepers. It's not what I like, but the fashion these days is to pick batsmen and hope the keeping looks after itself.

Personally, I'd have picked Read and kept him there for a few years until Brown or Davies was ready to take over but I expect we'll see Ambrose in for a long run, with much tut-tutting over his keeping errors.

Still, a good series win and one that might keep the critics of Moore at bay. He's had a pretty reasonable start to his international coaching career and will go from strength to strength.

  • 64.
  • At 01:46 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Whippetty Wooh wrote:

Everyone wants to choose their"XI" for the home series,bringing in Ramps or Shah or dropping Vaughan or Anderson etc.
I cannot understand why we dont play a squad system and pick horses for courses,form and fitness.Everyone goes on about consistency, but Football,Rugby,Athletics,(ie team games) all allow subs and have named squads.
Why dont England have (say) a 20 or 22 squad which allows the fringe and up and comers to be considered? We don't have to never play Harmy again if the right pitch is there;we can rest Vaughan and try Shah, or Carberry or Denly;rest Anderson for Hoggard or Onions,give Rashid a go while resting Monty,let Pietersen captain a game etc etc.
If you go back you will find at least half the current side only got into the team through injury(not them,the ones they replaced!)-Cook,Strauss,Collingwood,Pietersen, Sidebottom,Broad for starters!
Lets have a squad so people dont have to be "dropped",but we put out the best team on the day on the wicket!

  • 65.
  • At 01:52 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Paul Grunill - BBC Sport wrote:

tj (message 54) - Monty doesn't have to go far for advice as former England left-arm spinner Nick Cook is on the coaching staff at his county club, Northants. Cook played 15 Tests and was good enough to take five wickets in an innings on four occasions.

  • 66.
  • At 01:52 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

Good to get back to winning ways; some glimmers of the domination and ruthlessness of the 2004-2006 winning streak.
Sidebottom continues to impress and Monty reminded us how dangerous he can be.

Less pleasing points include the standard of the opposition. Of the Kiwi team, only 4 would challenge for a spot in the England team (McCullum, Vettori, Taylor and Fleming). England should be easily dispatching weaker sides like NZ. Some of the batting resembled players who have forgotten how to construct a test innings. Do you think 20/20, for all its razzamatazz is infecting out batsmen with recklessness?

I'm not even going to mention the first test bowling effort which resembled my village XI after a heavy night on tour.
Vaughan only scored one fifty in six innings and aginst Sri Lanka, only two. I think he needs to score some match winners gainst serious opposition, other Mr Collingwood will be calling.

Broad looked very good, good to have some chutzpah in the mix and I think Strauss will return to winning way. Bell gets better and better and will become a talisman for England.
I wonder whether Freddie can get back to his destructive best? Will we get Simon Jones back or has his goose been cooked? Should we 'blood' Rashid ready to become our secret weapon against the Aussies in '09? Plenty of questions for the Summer.

Finally, here's my team to play South Africa and New Zealand:


Maybe Hoggy can return, but like Gough, when the 'zip' goes you're finished.

  • 67.
  • At 01:55 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Nicky Boje wrote:

A great achievement to come from 1 down with 2 to play and win the series. Though I must pick up on some very odd ratings and opinions on here.

-The over the top critisisms of Bell. Why when his ton was almost the perfect innings?

-Calls to call up Ramprakash at whay 64 years old? Good grief do some people not recall anything about his Test career?

-People saying Collingwood is not Test Class yet three 50's on the tour and his average of well over 40 would suggest otherwise.

-Calls for Mustard to be in the side for Ambrose, Why??? Ambrose was crucial to our series win. Kept well and batted really well at vital times.

Well done on (somehow) taking the series, some hard fought cricket, not of the greatest quality but it was certainly intriguing and played in a great spirit. Good for the game!

  • 68.
  • At 01:57 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Frank Booth wrote:

jonathan says "Ambrose kept wicket tidily to go with his century and fifty. Wicket-keepers will always make mistakes – Brendon McCullum had a dreadful series behind the stumps but no one is sacking him – and England need to give Ambrose a proper run."

All this is true but that could equally apply to Prior. I'm not sure what Ambrose brings to the side that Prior didn't: they're both good batsman who aren't in the top class as keepers. It's not what I like, but the fashion these days is to pick batsmen and hope the keeping looks after itself.

Personally, I'd have picked Read and kept him there for a few years until Brown or Davies was ready to take over but I expect we'll see Ambrose in for a long run, with much tut-tutting over his keeping errors.

Still, a good series win and one that might keep the critics of Moores at bay. He's had a pretty reasonable start to his international coaching career and will go from strength to strength.

  • 69.
  • At 02:02 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Rob B wrote:

Good result for England and well done to all.
However I still don't understand why we only dropped 2 bowlers after the 1st test - wasn't it the batsmen who managed 110 (the bowlers still took 19 wickets in the game).
Take Strauss' 177 off his figures (from a flat track where 898 runs were scored in the teams' second innings) and he managed 71 from his 5 other innings - is that enough to keep a central contract? And how do you think that will make Shah feel? We gave the young bowlers a chance so why not refresh at least one of the batsmen?
As for Flintoff - sure he was our best player when fit but when did he last play for England? He can only be included when he has proved he's fit and in form again.

  • 70.
  • At 02:54 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Lee Cashman wrote:

For all the batting heroics of the likes of Bell, Pieterson and latterly Strauss, and the fantastic bowling of messers Panesar and Sidebottom, the find of the season is surely Stuart Broad. At 21 he's fantastic... imagine him in his late twenties! Still growing, he'll get stronger, faster and more confident and I feel is set to become one of the best all-rounders this country has ever seen. Overall, a damn good series and after such a disappointing start England have really laid the foundations of what potentially can be a fantastic test side. Good stuff!

  • 71.
  • At 03:04 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Whippetty Wooh wrote:

Everyone wants to choose their"XI" for the home series,bringing in Ramps or Shah or dropping Vaughan or Anderson etc.
I cannot understand why we dont play a squad system and pick horses for courses,form and fitness.Everyone goes on about consistency, but Football,Rugby,Athletics,(ie team games) all allow subs and have named squads.
Why dont England have (say) a 20 or 22 squad which allows the fringe and up and comers to be considered? We don't have to never play Harmy again if the right pitch is there;we can rest Vaughan and try Shah, or Carberry or Denly;rest Anderson for Hoggard or Onions,give Rashid a go while resting Monty,let Pietersen captain a game etc etc.
If you go back you will find at least half the current side only got into the team through injury(not them,the ones they replaced!)-Cook,Strauss,Collingwood,Pietersen, Sidebottom,Broad for starters!
Lets have a squad so people dont have to be "dropped",but we put out the best team on the day on the wicket!

  • 72.
  • At 03:36 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Rich Pountney wrote:

Ian Bell gets criticised an awful lot for only getting 50's and not converting but compared to the other batsmen he's a model of consistency. He is a class batsman and just needs to go the next step but to contemplate dropping him is madness. No-one I can think of is knocking on the door from county cricket apart from Shah maybe.
I also note that Bell's record is very similar to Michael Clarke's and he's fully supported in Oz as they realise he has potential.

  • 73.
  • At 03:54 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • michael naughton wrote:

The excellent cricket played by Stuart Broad and Ryan Sidebottom since being belatedly given a chance to prove themselves in International cricket must bring Duncan Flechers's judgement of what constitutes a test player into question .
He never even considered Ryan Sidebottom as being anywhere near good enough to play for him yet James Anderson has, and still is , been persevered with although his inconsistency is the only consistent thing that there is about his bowling.
As for Stuart Broad, if he is not the future of English cricket then it does not have one so then on an ideal tour to integrate him into the arena from the start did they ignore a great opportunity for him to gain invaluable top level experience while the selectors again and again indulged the inadequacies of Anderson so are they from the same mind set as the stubborn and intransigent Fletcher , God help us !!

  • 74.
  • At 03:58 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Yorkshirelad2 wrote:

A thoughtful & well-written article Jon, but don't forget about the pending & likely return to top-flight & Test Match Cricket shortly of Andrew Flintoff? Hopefully, 'Freddie' will be available both for the NZ & SA Test series then!

  • 75.
  • At 04:07 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Karamdeep, Jalandhar, India wrote:

If they play like this they wont beat South Africa and India later on this year

I still think that Ian Bell only plays well lower down the order or v poor teams.

Shah deserves a chance

Harmison should never play again, how dare he criticise the great Geoffrey Boycott!

  • 76.
  • At 04:08 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Yorkshirelad2 wrote:

A thoughtful & well-written article Jon, but don't forget about the pending & likely return to top-flight & Test Match Cricket shortly of Andrew Flintoff? Hopefully, 'Freddie' will be available both for the NZ & SA Test series then!

  • 77.
  • At 04:10 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Dougie Sussex wrote:

Spot on Jon- this team is about the best we have- at least we now know all the limitations- we need early season form- some excellent performances especially Broad- such a young exciting cricketer- with Flintoff hopefully back to old form- Hoggard will be in the wings- Harmeson- who knows- sadly the lad does not know himself as to what he wants- he is fortunate to have the oportunity he will regret things if he does not try and make a fist of it this summer- lets give some praise and stop finding the faults we know the limitations so lets try lift the confidence and say well done!

I have greatly enjoyed listening to Test Match Special coverage in the evenings and through the night.

Is there any chance that Test Match Special coverage of the English summer tests could be repeated in a similar time slot?

  • 79.
  • At 05:02 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • tj wrote:

Paul I understand where your coming from. However the point of my statement was if panesar had the right guidance he would have developed into the bowler that everyone talks about ie bowling with flight etc. He has not developed that yet so maybe his game has only come so far under the guidance of cook and parsons. Maybe he should get a broader understanding of the art of spin and that will help him and England.

  • 80.
  • At 05:08 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • ANUP CHANDRA wrote:

english team has mst earnest to take 20 wickets in all tests thus the focus has made a good comeback to win the series.

Batsman also made substantial back up for the bowler


  • 81.
  • At 05:08 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Frank 67. You're totally misinformed. Ambrose is a keeper that bats and not the other way around. He has been keeping wicket from a very young age. There was an article in the Birmingham post about this but I can't find the article now.

What does he bring into the side which Prior didn't? Good keeping

  • 82.
  • At 05:31 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • V.S.S.SARMA wrote:

At the end of the 3 test series in which England won by 2-1 margin, let me give the ratings of the players on a 0-10 scale. The ratings represent relative performance per match.

England: Sidebottom (7.9), Stuart Broad (6.6), Collingwood (6.1), Strauss (5.3), Pietersen (5.2), Ian Bell (5), Ambrose (4.4), Cook (4), Panesar (4), Jamie Anderson (3.6), Vaughn (2.2), Hoggard (1.5), Harmison (0.9).

New Zealand: Southee (10), Vettori (7), Kyle Mills (6), LRPL Taylor (5.9), Fleming (5.7), Gillespie (5.5), Oram (5.1), JS Patel (4.9), McCullum (4.7), How (3.8), Martin (3.6), Matthew Bell (2.3), Elliott (1.9), Matthew Sinclair (1.5)

Vaughan apparently says we need to improve.

I have an idea, just a small idea, nothing outlandish or anything.

Drop Vaughan and we will improve by almost 10%. It's less I know but not by that much.

Dom Cork agrees!!!: If Flintoff comes back in he is not coming back in as a second slip, he is coming back in as an all-rounder. It is weight of runs, weight of performance and wait and see.

"You would either drop a batsman or a bowler. My view, and this is going to be very strange, I would drop Michael Vaughan. You don't just play him as a captain."

  • 84.
  • At 05:51 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Tim Richter wrote:

Let's not get carried away. Yes we beat NZ but they are in transition and apart from Vettori lack a class bowler.
We had 1 bowler who fired properly but what will he do against Australia?
The batting remains patchy and there is little evidence that Vaughan is worth his place.
Ambrose did enough to keep his place but we have kept faith in the not too distant past with so-called keepers who were not up to the mark. Let's not make the same mistake again.
Overall we were the better side but I have seen little evidence that the coach is doing his job - we did OK to come back from 1 down but we were dreadfully underprepared for the first match.

  • 85.
  • At 05:58 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Frank Booth wrote:

Paul 79

You're the one who's misinformed: when Ambrose and Prior played for Sussex, it was Prior who was the first choice keeper and Ambrose played as a batsman only.

As I'm a Sussex member I've watched the pair of them keep wicket many time and neither of them is particularly impressive. And if you think that Ambrose kept well in the series, you were obviously blinking when he missed the stumping and the catch in the 2nd Test.

As I said, I'd have neither, I'd always choose a decent keeper. I'm pleased to see that Ambrose has got his chance - I remember saying in 2003 that he'd play for England within five years - but let's not kid ourselves he's a world-class keeper.

  • 86.
  • At 06:00 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Rupert wrote:

I agree with Aggers.
There looks like there is going to be competetion for places this summer which is exciting. There are the likes of Flintoff, Tremlett, Swann, Shah, Trott and Mustard plus Hoggy and hopefully Harmy. But for the first test it has to be this team that played this test match.

  • 87.
  • At 06:12 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • michael allen wrote:

I can't find very much to celebrate from this victory. The inability to clean up the Kiwis' tail seals England's place at, I would say, sixth in the world rankings (whatever the official rankings are).

  • 88.
  • At 06:18 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Bill McCartney wrote:

Despite the victory I think we should not be blinded by the fact that it was a very patchy performance. A few individuals came to the rescue at the right time. It WAS NOT a great team performance. It is clear that Vaughan is a major problem as a front line batsman and also with regard to captaincy. The decision to bat on on the fourth morning was poor in view of the conditions and totally unnecessary. It was his obduracy that made the task much harder in the last test. It was also interesting to learn that he was "telling Monty how and what to bowl"

He has not really performed consistently enough over a long peroid now as a batsman and a captain to justify his position as either, This issue has to be addressed before we meet Australia again - the sooner the better.

  • 89.
  • At 06:36 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • L A Odicean wrote:

There can be no doubt that Anderson would benefit from studying the action of the great Norman McVicker of Leicestershire - on his day he was the finest medium pace bowler of his day. I doubt if there's any footage of it, though.

  • 90.
  • At 07:00 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Michael Atkinson wrote:

I think England deserve some praise this time. We came back from one down (and I accept that the loss in Hamilton was inept) and several players who needed to come good did so, while a couple who needed to go also did. Sidebottom has been wonderful and has a good attitude, Broad has made a good start, and Ambrose must be given a run in the side. As long as we kick on from here, continue to work hard and don't get complacent, I think we can look on this series as a success. I have no time for comments like "we have only beaten NZ", or, last year, "we have only beaten WI". In the 70s and 80s, WI never got tired of thrashing us and never denigrated their players for doing it.

  • 91.
  • At 07:05 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Ian Parr wrote:

Well done England, but a result by the skin of our teeth. Declining to declare overnight does send out messages though, but then setting 553 to win should have been a breeze. However, our bowlers were yet again inconsistent. I do like the look of Broad though - he could be a real good one.

Our bowlers seem to lack real discipline in bowling line and length often enough to pressure the opposition. I know the "stats" don't tell it all, but look at the bowling averages of McGrath, Ambrose, Hadlee, Marshall, Imran Khan, Donald, Lillee and Pollock all low twenties, not 30 like our leading current wicket taker - Hoggard. Our last bowler in this bracket was Fred Trueman 307 wickets @ 21.57! Accuracy leads to pressure, leads to wickets. Perhaps our championship wickets should be prepared better to persuade our bowlers to practice harder and control the ball?

  • 92.
  • At 10:01 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • stephen, durham wrote:

i watch a lot of county cricket in the summer at durham. the afternoon sessions at least!
ramprakash stands out, as easily the finest batsman in england. what has gone before is irrelevant.....get him in the side.
best wishes to marcus terscothick, all england fans wish him the best ,and he was a fine player for england. i hope marcus is proud of his international career....he should be.

  • 93.
  • At 10:06 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • frenchcricketer wrote:

Can we now stop the negative comments about Monty? At the beginning of the series it was said we should compare him to "the best finger spinner in the world" Vettori. I think we can agree Muli is a one off. Well Vettori was the third best spinner in this series.

Monty was the second best bowler of any sort after the outstanding Sidebottom

Monty 11 for 332
Patel 8 for 287
Vettori 7 fir 383

  • 94.
  • At 10:36 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Adrian wrote:

The most important thing to learn from this series is that Vaughan is an expensive luxury. Most friends of mine have said it for years. He lost us the World cup! He has not delivered again with the bat..again. And his captaincy is average!! And Bell should go too. How much longer do we have to put up with these under-performers???

  • 95.
  • At 11:09 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Nick wrote:

Cricket aside, I'd like to thank the TMS team for their excellent (and entertaining) coverage of this tour.

Roll on May!

  • 96.
  • At 11:20 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Peter wrote:

Ryan Sidebottom if he maintains his form will be even better against New Zealand on his home turf.He maybe even lucky enough to pick up best ever figures.

  • 97.
  • At 11:46 PM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Frank Booth: I thought it was the other way around during the championship season of 2003. I'm a warwickshire member but I regularly go down to Hove to see us play and I thought the general opionion amongst the Sussex members was that Ambrose is the better Keeper, and Prior is the better batsman, although Ambrose's batting has moved on since he has joined us and the gap is now closer.

If you honestly think Davies is going to be the answer then I don't think you've seen him play much.

  • 98.
  • At 08:40 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Anonymous wrote:


  • 99.
  • At 09:07 AM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • g wrote:

south africa are looking very very hard to beat. they don't have any weaknesses! their bowling attack gives nothing! steyn is faster and better than anyone in world cricket at the moment. harris is tall and is going to enjoy the english pitches. plus morkel is tall, quick and wicket to wicket and then there's flipping ntini. gibbs can't even make their team any more and he is the most naturally gifted batsman i've ever seen.

  • 100.
  • At 01:50 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • critic2 wrote:

Where does all this lead us ?


Reasonably comfortable that the younger players, Bell, Pietersen & Cook should be allowed to develop further. They are not quite hitting their straps but they all average over 40 and have hundreds under their belt. What we really need is for them to up their performances by 20% in order that they can get closer to Kallis,Ponting,Hayden,Tendulkar,Dravid etc.

Not so sure about the other 3 (Vaughan,Strauss & Collingwood). I would persevere with Colly as his record is ok and he will serve a very useful purpose if Flintoff comes back into the side as part of a 4 man bowling attack. At their ages, Vaughan and Strauss really need to be delivering consistently which on recent evidence they have not. Following the thread, we may as well play Ramprakash (possibly at Vaughan's expense)while we wait for a real younger gun to emerge. Lets face it, the batting has done little better than OK and has let us down several times this winter so improvements need to be made... and one swallow at Napier doesn't make a summer !

On the bowling front, Sidebottom has been awesome and should be ok for 2-3 years. Hoggard is still a serious contender especially in England - don't write him off too soon. Panassar is fine, just look at the number of 5 wicket hauls he has (he also outbowled Vettouri who is well rated by all). Great start by Broad, I like his attitude, batting and fielding (he does however need another yard of pace to be really potent). Anderson is a bit of a curates egg but can be very,very dangerous when he is in rhythm. Trouble is, he does lack consistency and control and that may continue to be his achilees heel.

Ambrose, well he did pretty well but the jury will remain out until the end of the summer.

All in all, a dissapointing winter given that we didn't compete with Sri Lanka and edged out a very poor New Zealand team. The batters had an excellent opportunity to go really big but none took advantage. We again proved that we don't have the bowling guile to do well in the sub continent. I can't see too many answers currently on the county scene so our medium term objectives of properly challenging the Aussi machine is in real danger. I also feel that we lack the mental toughness to win in close situations at both forms of the game. So major room for improvement, and I am not convinced that the current regime is anywhere tough enough preferring to talk about progress even when things are obviously poor. Hope England can prove me wrong, they did once before !

  • 101.
  • At 02:17 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Brownie wrote:

Test For NZ

Collingwood (C)

vaughan is no where near the player he was. after knee ops etc. and also sighs for new era under colly.

when flintoff returns places will be up for grabs e.g. Shah 0 flintoff and pietersen or bell at 3. or if strauss doesnt perform shah to open and flintoff into the middle order. or swap hoggard for flintoff with greater batting line up also.


Wright (B)
Collingwood (B)
Shah (B)
Bopara (good Form in Preseason tour) (B)
Flintoff (if Fit or Mascarenhas)(B)
Broad (B)
Swann (B)
Sidebottem (B)

Bowling Opinions (B) 8 out of 11
maybe pietersen but not really. so sorta 9 out of 11.

bat all the way to 11.

  • 102.
  • At 05:44 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Hi g. no.97. I agree South Africa are a strong side, but they definately have weakenesses. I think they rely a lot on two or three batsman. If Nel doesn't play then their bolwing attack is definately weakened. I rate Steyn very highly. At the beginning of last season at Warwickshire, he was a revelation but when he got a niggle he wasn't anywhere near as effective. He has to be 100% to be the bowler he has been. As for Harris, hes not as good as Panesar, he didn't like the wickets too mast last seasin in england where he was totally ineffective. If we have a dry summer and the wickets are hard and bouncy, he is going to be a major factor. He doesn't turn the ball much, but hes a tall bloke and relies on bounce.

Its going to be a fascinating series but i still take England to win it.

  • 103.
  • At 11:41 PM on 27 Mar 2008,
  • EngAsh08 wrote:

Vaughans's right, don't get carried away. We've beaten an uner-par NZ team, nothing special.

Vaughan- Mediocre Captaincy, terrible batting. Time for a change methinks. Would allow Strauss to play opener where he prefers, and Bell to move up to No 3, something he would relish. Captaincy would have to be handed over, and it's an open call,i'd give Strauss another go frankly because currently noone else is up to it.

Cook - Again, a fairly mediocre series, made a couple of pretty 60's and i won't falt him on that, i don't remember him stepping up though when we really needed it? Still, a young promising player, a potential captain for the future. Great fielding though.

Strauss - He stepped up for his own personal future in that last innings, and should as others have said guarentee a place for the 1st test come summer. Again though not much to say, played 1 test and made 1 good knock out of 2.

Pietersen - Probably changed the series with is 100 after 4/3 start. He's definitely there when we need him, but that aside he's not had a good winter by any means. One hopes the fame won;t get to his head, and definitely has something to prove come summer.

Bell - My favourite player in general, great style and flair, but also had an average series. Made the odd 50 here and there to help the cause but again, an average series.

Collingwood - Really good in my view. Played his innings according to the situation and consitently made wuick 50's. Exactly what England wanted from their No5. He also picked up his best bowling figures in test cricket, nothing phenomenal but chipped in all areas, but quite in the field though!

Ambrose- I'm a strong believer that we should choose a keeper/batsman rather than a batsman/keeper. The belief is that the 30odd runs a Geriant Jones might make would not outweigh the catch he would drop off a top order batsman when he's on 10 not out and goes on to make a century. In any case, Ambrose played the most vital innings of all to help England win the series, his maiden hundred got England firmly back in the series. His keeping was fairly good, and i can't remember him dropping anything REALLY important so overall fairily promising. We hope he does NOT follow in the footsteps of Prior...

Broad- Fantastic series, wonderful pace, accuracy and aggression. How i enjoy watching him AND his high-class tail end batting, the quality has always been there and with a little more experiance and some decent opposition he'll be deadly.

Sidebottom - Undoubtedly Englands man of the series, funnily enough we saw similar bowling in Sri Lanka, except this time around he hasn't been as badly plagues by bad fielding,umpiring and LUCK in general, and with swing friendly English pitches he should have a great summer.

Panesar - Came up with the goods in the last test, and needed to after a dismal performance in spin-friendly Sri Lanka. His fielding is still atrocious but he's gaining valuable experience and the future is bright for our Monty.

Anderson - Misfiring on all cylinders. His performace in this series is typical of his whole career. At times world-class but suffers from terrible inconsistency, and as a certain Aussie commentator once said, he may just be a one-day specialist bowler.

On a whole fairly promising, it was nice to see Moores leaving out Harmy and Hoggy in the 2nd test, a firm take of action that proved effective. With the likes of Broad and Panesar maturing it gives England hope come the 2009 ashes, but mabe some more drastic measures need to be taken, such as dropping Vaughan and Anderson permanantly, allowing for Hoggard to take Anderson's, and for Bell to take the N03 spot, and potentially another batsman such as Owiah Shah to take charge at No6.

  • 104.
  • At 08:33 AM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Dominic wrote:

Panesar was disappointing in Sri Lanka yes, but it didn't help that expectations were hyped to a totally unreasonable level by Sky etc. making it the "Monty vs. Murali show". Murali is a once in a generation talent most likely. It was more interesting to see his performances vs. Vettori's. Vettori is a much more comparable bowler, albeit with a lot more experience. If Monty develops the same mastery of variation that Vettori has now, he'll be a very good one - though he'll never be as good with a bat or in the field as Vettori.

As for why New Zealand are a better one day side - one of them is that they bat right down to no. 10, which is a much greater advantage in limited overs matches than tests, given that batsmen will always be facing some part time bowlers at some point in their innings.

  • 105.
  • At 08:40 AM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • g wrote:

Hi Paul. (post 100)

Sehwag's about to get his double ton in Chennai!

but yeah, Nel is a bit like Anderson for England. unplayable one day, spraying it all over the shop the next. so i guess we'll have to wait on that one!

Harris has come on a lot since he became a regular in the team. he's started giving it a bit more flight, which he has had to learn to do away from his hard home pitches. i suspect he'll be rather fancying the English lefties... he did well against Sri Lanka..

i can't wait for this ENGvsSA series. my friend has got me a ticket for the Saturday at Lords!!!

  • 106.
  • At 12:29 PM on 28 Mar 2008,
  • Olympics wrote:

England played against a weak new zealand. try playing the likes of SA, australia, india.
they will put england in their right place.

  • 107.
  • At 02:06 AM on 29 Mar 2008,
  • NS wrote:

Johnny A,


England is a 'B' and needs to promote cricket more than football (soccer?). Can they send some football players to play Test might lead to a favo(u)rable outcome....

I miss the Ian Botham days when they could actually beat a quality team in Test matches.

Strictly in terms of the numbers, Strauss' series was actually fairly typical of his old pre-Ashes 06/07 scores:

Three scores in single figures
Two scores in the forties
One ton, although the ton was a bit bigger than usual.

Not saying anything either way, it's just that in terms of the stats he was fairly close to his usual stuff.

  • 109.
  • At 04:30 PM on 31 Mar 2008,
  • madbeefsheppo wrote:

Dave Raverson, you are absolutely right! Vaughan did the right thing by delaying the declaration in the 3rd test. This allowed England to build up more runs and win by a comfortable 3 figure run score, otherwise it might have been very close.
Enough with the negative comments here England fans, get off your armchairs and get behind your team. A very good effort to come from behind in the series, and I am pleased to see some good aggression from both the batsmen and the bowlers, we will need that against (with all respect to NZ) stronger teams. Sidebottom particularly stands out!

  • 110.
  • At 12:57 PM on 01 Apr 2008,
  • Joe wrote:

David Gratton:

"Collingwood not test class", i'm sorry sir but you are an arse.......

Averages over 40 with the bat, has hit a double Ton Vs Australia away, , when the chips are down and we have collapsed always drops anchor and gets as many as he can anyway he can, when we are doing well tries to score quickly to his own cost, ultimate team player, more than useful with the ball, an extra option, helpful for Vaughan to have more experience on the field, always gives his best,awesome fielder

i'm sorry David but i fail to see why he gets a 4 in you're ratings......what more do you want.......

  • 111.
  • At 12:26 AM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • Nick wrote:

Lots of interesting comments and of course very entertaining TMS coverage - particularly Aggers and Boycott at the start of play.

As a neutral cricket fan, I often feel that the England selectors seem obsessed with getting the correct batting line up, and picking bowlers as an afterthought. I agree with many others that Harmison needs to go back to Durham and sort himself out. None of us can really know what goes on in his head, but it looks like he would always rather be somewhere else, than on tour with England. He's certainly a shadow of the bowler who terrorised all comers before and during the last home Ashes series.

Hoggard is still a decent bowler, but lacks match sharpness. Broad looks to have ability and a good deal of common sense, if looked after should improve in all aspects of his game. Panesar seems a bit frightened of being hit all over the ground. I seem to remember he flighted the ball a bit more when he first broke through. I think he feels he has to be more economical now and his variation suffers for it.

Anderson - can't see where he's bowling, so can't adjust if it goes wrong. When Flintoff comes back it would be a mistake to rush him back into the test side - it'll only lead to more injury.

I can't see too much wrong with the England batting line up, but I think Shah deserves a chance sooner rather than later.

  • 112.
  • At 03:19 PM on 02 Apr 2008,
  • paul carew wrote:

After reading certain comments on this site, I am scratching my head in confusion. Johnny A, take a look at England results when Botham played and you will see that they were not as good as you probably thought. So many people look at the Bothan era with rose tinted specs and it was not that good. Vaughans England side 2003-2005 would have beaten any side that Botham played in, just a pity that there have been so many injuries since. Olympics, how often have India had successful tours of New Zealand, I await your answer.

  • 113.
  • At 08:44 AM on 04 Apr 2008,
  • Ed wrote:

Happy Birthday, Aggers.

I thought TMS was on top form during the New Zealand series. Still the best thing on the radio.

  • 114.
  • At 09:10 PM on 04 Apr 2008,
  • Melissa wrote:

Hello Aggers... Happy Birthday!

I felt very pleased for Andrew Strauss when he got his hundred - I still feel quite loyal to the 2005 Ashes winning team! I hope he gets a decent summer in for england, we're in need of some more consistant performances from the top order (after the 4-3 and all that!).

The thing about England is that we have a lot of potential, and therefore there is a lot of expectation. I think they played well to come back this series, but I think it was a bit marred by the fact that we expected (hoped) they wouldn't get into a position that would need 'coming back' from. Anyways, well played England and long live TMS!!

  • 115.
  • At 10:03 PM on 04 Apr 2008,
  • trent wrote:

to be honest to challenge for the next ashes series this was not a great tour.

11 players that should be brought into the team so they can learn or play against teams such as bangladesh etc.


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