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Sidebottom swings match England's way

Jonathan Agnew | 07:14 UK time, Sunday, 23 March 2008

Napier: day two of third Test - Ryan Sidebottom’s amazing return to Test cricket goes from strength to strength, and he has now become the highest England wicket taker ever on a tour of New Zealand.

More significantly, perhaps, he has rescued England from the real prospect of defeat in the final Test and put them in the position from which they should take the series.

His achievement has to be measured against the fact that if England’s batting on the first day was dreadful, New Zealand’s first innings was not of Test quality.

I don’t think, in 18 years, I have seen a quite such an inept performance from a senior Test-playing team in such an important match...

Batting sides can always be bundled out, of course, but New Zealand threw their wickets away in a desperate show of naivety, and literally handed the advantage to England on a plate.

I can’t see any way back for New Zealand now.

Sidebottom celebrates taking seven wickets in the first innings

All of that said, Sidebottom does make things happen. From a batsman’s perspective, he is always in your face.

The wild hair and, sometimes, overplayed shows of aggression all serve to produce a reaction. He has also bowled beautifully controlled lines and a full length – it just shows what a period of sustained county cricket can do for you.

Let’s hope the new selectors are wise enough to take note, and give Liam Plunkett, for example, a chance to learn his craft before exposing him to Test cricket again.

Andrew Strauss finds himself in the enviable position of being able to bat with no pressure at all throughout the third day.

What an opportunity for him against a bowling attack that carries little threat on such a flat pitch to rediscover his lost touch. Kevin Pietersen is also set to make hay as England aim to bat New Zealand out of the match.

They have been gifted a second chance, and I will be surprised if they blow it. Mind you, the way both teams have batted in this series, I would not necessarily bet against it!

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:00 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • tony ferney wrote:

As usual JA (like Sidebottom) is right on the spot. He has a nice turn of phrase at the end too.

PS Could this turn out to be the first match in cricket history in which BOTH teams lose? Just asking.

  • 2.
  • At 08:20 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

Well that was a suprise. I checked the score at 5am GMT as i wanted sleep when NZ were in the 90s for 1, and i thought it had been rained off and 91-2 was the NZ score. There is no excuse for England to lose this match thanks to suberb bowling by Sideshow Bob. And KPs first innings.

Vaughan failed again to get even close to a good score, and, although he's a great captain, if he doesn't produce any runs, then it becomes difficult to justify his place in the team.

Having said that England should win, as this whole series has proved, it utterly depends on the mental attitude of the players.

Go England!

  • 3.
  • At 08:21 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • mheeaad wrote:

i would love to see Strauss get a big hundred but - and i hate to ask - would it just paper over the cracks and prolong the England top 6 problem?? also, is Vaughan's time up??

  • 4.
  • At 08:22 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Bristolbluemanc wrote:

Truth is neither side is very good. England have been resting on their laurels since beating the Aussies while the Kiwis are a team in transition. For me Vaughan's batting has been a real disappointment.

  • 5.
  • At 08:31 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • GarryMac wrote:

Be careful Aggers, phrases like "I cannot see any way back for New Zealand now" can easily come back to haunt you, this is England we are talking about!

As for Mr Sidebottom, it is so refreshing to see an individual cherish every moment of his Test Match career and it shows in his figures. He is truely in the form of his life and I really hope he can take this forward to the Ashes next year.

Unfortunately Mr Anderson has once again shown his inconsistency as an England player.

If we can get Simon Jones back for next year, a bowling line up out of Jonsey, Freddie, Sidebottom, Hoggy, Jimmy, Broady and Monty (sorry Harmy your finished, thanks for the memories in 2004/2005) sounds exciting. If someone can PLEASE TELL Monty to VARY HIS PACE. It seems every commentator and hack says the same thing. If he can actually practice this before next year all the better.

In summary "come on England" win the series and give us some hope we can start building up to the "big one" next year.

  • 6.
  • At 08:31 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Ian wrote:

It seems the New Zealanders are trying to emulate the England teams ability at turnig victory into defeat!

  • 7.
  • At 08:31 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Rob Whittle wrote:

England just need to bat sensibly, taking singles, playing a natural game and putting the occasional bad ball away at 3 runs per over, to make a 400+ lead at the end of Day 3.

Strauss, KP and other batsmen have to set themselves targets, 50, 100, bat out sessions, no silly shots and keep there feet moving, especially a good front foot movement.

Monty is likely to be a more significant bowler on a worn pitch on the last 2 days.

  • 8.
  • At 08:38 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Nounsley wrote:

England and New Zealand on this evidence are pretty poor test playing sides. The fact that a pretty good experienced county seamer is becoming England's lead bowler is not so much praise for the role of county cricket in developing cricketers but more a sign of the paucity of the resources available to England. England from the high of being able to compete with Australia, India, and South Africa is now playing at the level ofthe average county team. Not good enough to compete with the leading test nations, but obviously it offers hope for those stuck in county cricket. Bring on Ramprakash, Hick, Kirtley and the likes. Is Bicknell still around?

  • 9.
  • At 08:38 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Rob Whittle wrote:

Plunkett and Harmison can learn much from Sidebottom. Its not all about just pace, bounce and misdirection; its about control, line and length, finding the right areas consistently for each pitch type, getting to ball to do just enough, variation and control of this and cutting out the bad balls!

No good having Plucks or Harmy back until they can get form back and take bags of wickets, ie 5 fors +

  • 10.
  • At 08:40 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • David C. wrote:

Like many people, I expect, I went to bed thoroughly disgusted at NZ lunch and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the headline this morning. Very well done to Sidebotham and also to Broad for pulling himself together after an iffy start. James Anderson is a luxury which England cannot afford, and he followed the pattern which he has set in the past.

I have to take issue with Jonathan's comment that 'it just shows what a period of sustained county cricket can do for you'. County cricket is precisely why England, in the last thirty five years, have only had a period of about 18 months (2004-5) when they could beat the best teams in the world. County cricket is the problem, not the solution (unless you aspire to sloppy mediocrity, of course).

I would like to commend the NZ commentator on TMS, who is not only a good performer and seems like a nice chap, but also predicted NZ's batting fragility at a point when they were apparently cruising. If he'd like to e-mail next Saturday's winning lottery numbers to the address attached to this post.....

David C.

  • 11.
  • At 08:41 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • kamal V wrote:

Aggers is spot on. As much as the England first was a disaster, the New Zealand first innings did not even belong to Test match standard. The series is still alive only because of the mediocrity of both teams, with each one trying to out-do the other; a classic case of tweedledum against tweedledee.

A very tame series compared to the highs of the Australia vs. India series this past month.

  • 12.
  • At 08:46 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Richard Hemmings wrote:

Another good report by JA. Unless Strauss scores a century in this innings, he will not be in the team anymore. His preformances before this innings have been very poor and he has gotten out on single digits in most occasions.
We need somemore county cricket stars. It would be early Christmas if Ramprakesh started as the number 3 for England instead of Strauss. Liam Plunkett needs at least two to three years more country cricket before even considering becoming a full time Engalnd international.

  • 13.
  • At 08:48 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Ian wrote:

It seems the New Zealanders are trying to emulate the England team's ability at snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory.

  • 14.
  • At 08:50 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • azee wrote:

I have question over Vaughn's performance. It has been dreadful most of times and I think it should be judged against the same criteria as faced by other players. He is utterly disappointing.England really need to find an opener of some class.

  • 15.
  • At 08:51 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • rob wrote:

Why is Vaughan's batting a disappointment?

Since his ton at Sydney 5 years ago he averages under 30 in Tests abroad.

Disappointment suggests expectation -and there is no reason to expect anything from Vaughan except low scores.

  • 16.
  • At 08:51 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Andy Whippet wrote:

Vaughan's batting has been a disappointment the last 3 years.Look at his average and you have to ask why he is in the side.Answer:he has a central contract-same excuse for keeping Harmy and Strauss.
NZ will lose this series.
South Africa will be the real test later this summer.

  • 17.
  • At 08:54 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Dr. Cajetan Coelho wrote:

With three days to go and only 18 wickets left, this match may not last the remaining 18 hours of play yet to come. Batsmen have been having a tough time in the ongoing Napier Test. Only experienced and world class batsman Stephen Fleming and to some extent NZ opening batsman J. How offered some resistance to Ryan Sidebottom and Stuart Broad. In such a scenario where batsmen keep coming and going in procession, the innings played by Kevin Pietersen was a master class.

  • 18.
  • At 09:00 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Keith Fletcher wrote:

We should remember that before this series NZ were ranked 7th in Tests
just above the woeful West Indies and Bangladesh. And that was mainly based on stronger players who are no longer playing e.g. Bond, Styris etc.
Has Test cricket ever been weaker overall ? If Test cricket was divided into two divisions there would only be 3 teams worthy of Div 1 and it wouldn't include England or NZ.

  • 19.
  • At 09:08 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Mujeeb wrote:

It is high-time England started from scratch with their top-order batsmen.

Too much is made of half-centuries in a game where the technology and trueness of pitches means such scores are much easier to come by.

Get rid of KP (the GREAT pretender), Strauss, Vaughan, Collingwood and Bell and blood some new players! It is time to reward the many hard-working young players who wait in frustration.

Come on England....its time to change and join India, Australia, SL and SA in the the premier league.

  • 20.
  • At 09:08 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Peter H wrote:

I watched this morning's session and while pleased to discover that once again an individual bowler (Sidebottom) had managed to save the blushes, as Peterson had done with the batting, I had the sinking feeling that England's stumble across the line (as they probably will) could save the likes of Vaughan and Strauss. Strauss will go on and score 70 or maybe a 100, and hopefully it will re-charge his career, but a more ruthless team aiming for greater things would know that serious surgery is required after the inept first innings. Somehow highly talented players like Bell have managed to excel in mediocrity, and this is why an injection of fresh and untarnished youthful talent is crucial if we are to be truly competitive against teams such as India, South Africa and Australia. Let vaughan go out on a high, leading a second rate team to victory against a third rate team, but then the selectors need to be tough and do what should have been done last year - prune heavily and grow for the future. A 2-1 victory against NZ will tell us that Sidebottom and Peterson can dig the ream out of a hole, and that Broad is promising, but would the Aussies have allowed us to get away with the pitiful effort on day one? No. So, after the team and management enjoys the superb Hawkes Bay wines, let's hope the celebrations are tempered with a severe dose of realistic self-sppraisal and remedial action. Goodbye Michael, thanks for 2005, but it is time to move on.

  • 21.
  • At 09:13 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • simon carbery wrote:

It's great that England have recovered in this match. But the performance of the bowlers shouldn't mask the fact that England have a serious problem in the batting department. Vaughan and Strauss are both capable of good innings, but neither seem able to deliver on anything but an occasional basis; Bell seems too frail to make regular hundreds; and Cook looks to me like yet another young England prospect who will be frustrating us for many years to come.
The basis of a successful test side has always been a consistent and prolific opening partnership - but the current England side looks to have no prospect of that while Vaughan, Cook and Strauss are the options available. Now that Trescothick has retired, perhaps the relatively undemanding summer test itinerary against New Zealand might be the time to say thanks and goodbye to the over 30's at the top of the order and try out a few players for the future.

  • 22.
  • At 09:16 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Paul Woodrow wrote:

I thoroughly agree with the comment on Vaughan's batting, what happened to the opener who terrified the Aussies a few years ago?

As to England resting on their laurels - unfortunately they currently have no laurels to rest on. They have been searching for them for some time, especially after poor performances against India (beaten in a home test series) and against Sri Lanka, where frankly we looked a little clueless.

Only a few players remain from the Ashes victory in 2005 - Strauss (but for how much longer?) K.P. and Vaughan. It really is time these players were moulded into a unit.

  • 23.
  • At 09:19 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Jones wrote:

Surely after this series the selectors need to take a close look at the top order and make some major changes. Can someone tell me why Vaughan is still in the team, let alone opening, when he's been so consistently poor over the last couple of series (one ton excepted if my memory serves me right). I appreciate he's the captain but surely thst makes it even more important that he perform, or it undermines the entire teams confidence? Strauss really doesn't seem to be finding any form despite a multitude of chances (42no today does not in my mind atone for failures with the bat and in the field this series). Perhaps Pieterson (and he's only really had one good knock) excepted the bowlers have carried the team the entire series. I'd be getting pretty peeved by now if my top order was conistently failing and making winning a match against an okay team such hard work! So frustrating to see England not move forward when there is such talent available!!

  • 24.
  • At 09:21 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Andy Whippet wrote:

Vaughan's batting has been a disappointment the last 3 years.Look at his average and you have to ask why he is in the side.Answer:he has a central contract-same excuse for keeping Harmy and Strauss.
NZ will lose this series.
South Africa will be the real test later this summer.

  • 25.
  • At 09:24 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Innocent Abroad wrote:

This is why we love cricket. I listened to the morning session as usual before I went to bed, satisfied that Michael Vaughan's reign as skipper was over!

I wonder if Stephen Fleming played a responsible, or a carnival innings. Maybe he made it look too easy and unconsciously encouraged his team-mates to play shots they shouldn't have.

England are (just) the better of two poor sides. The test I apply is: how many of their players would I want in the England team? In NZ's case, the answer is 3 or 4 (Fleming, McCullum and Vettori, and Oram only because we haven't at the moment got an all-rounder).

  • 26.
  • At 09:32 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Colin wrote:

So New Zealand "literally" handed the advantage to England on a plate! Would that be a china plate or a plastic plate?

  • 27.
  • At 09:35 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Stretfordend wrote:

Nice words Aggers, I totally agree, but no mention of how absolutely appalling Jimmy Anderson was. How is it possible for someone to bowl so well in the last test then to produce a performance like this in this one?

This is a guy who has essentially spent most of his cricketing life in and around 'Team England' and yet he actually seems to have become more unpredictable and erratic in this time!

In fact this accusation could safely be levelled at most of the England team (Sidders excepted) since Peter Moores has come into the picture....

  • 28.
  • At 09:38 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Adam wrote:

I don't think New Zealand 'literally handed the advantage to England on a plate', Aggers.

Where was this plate?

  • 29.
  • At 09:40 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Neil Cross wrote:

It's like watching 2 pub teams slug it out such are the low standards.Surely we cannot snatch defeat from the jaws of victory again? A test series win would be a hollow win indeed. What would have happened had we been playing the Aussies? I'm proudly English, currently living in New Zealand....please make my life easier out here by beating the Kiwis.Thanks Sidebottom,Pietersen & Broad for showing guts & quality when it matters most.Strauss surely must now produce the goods or be put out to grass? Big questions over Vaughan's decision-making & motivation?

  • 30.
  • At 09:40 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • steve wrote:

Superb from Sidebottom once again. Who'd have thought twelve months ago that he'd now be the spearhead of Englands attack!

As for Michael Vaughan...well, disappointing again with the bat and it has to be said, ineffective in the field when NZ were blazing away before lunch. Does make you wonder how long he has left as captain.

Strauss will never get a better opportunity to make a big score and by doing so secure his place. I suspect another failure in this innings would have signalled an extended period out of the team.

  • 31.
  • At 09:45 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • rgower wrote:

England aren't playing cricket- The game they are playing is 'Collapse in the Most Spectacular Fashion Possible'. Which is the gold medal game for all British professional sports teams from cricket to rugby and they have become terribly good at it over the last ten years or so.

Obviously there are set backs- Nobody has explained the game to young Siders for instance. But the Kiwi's have caught on and are giving England a fine late run after their boring win in the first test.

  • 32.
  • At 09:56 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Spot on there I think

i was getting a buzz listening to the Kiwi wickets fall after lunch - it kept me going through the night! I'm not sure who you would bring Plunkett in for though. I do actually like the look of the Broad/Anderson/Sidebottom/Panesar attack!

  • 33.
  • At 09:56 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Dollard wrote:

I went to bed in a grump, I couldn't believe how England, who I think are a good team could have lost yet another session to a very average NZ team. Thanks to Siders and poor batting we should win, hurrah. & it's worth noting that Jimmy could have broken the Fleming/How partnership before lunch and saved some face but Strauss missed it completely.

  • 34.
  • At 10:10 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • John Rudd wrote:

Once again England's bowlers, in this case Sidebottom and Broad in tandem,have brought England back into the game.Now it's up to the remaining batsmen to bat throughout the third day to build the lead to around 400-450, leaving NZ with a similar chase to that in Wellington.No need for reckless shots, a chance for Strauss, KP,Bell and Colly to play long innings. If England can bat for 96 overs in the first innings with half the runs scored by one player, surely a combined effort from the top 6 this time round, will give England the lead of 400 odd with 2 days remaining.
After watching the NZ capitulation, it's clear they have more out of form batsmen than England and Fleming's last test innings may well be another 50 but without any real support will surely see him bow out of test cricket on a losing note.
Forget what's happened in the series and this match to date- the batsmen should do their job tomorrow and then with some justification perhaps can look Ryan Sidebottom in the eye and say "You got us back into the match and we've backed you up for a change,now we'll back you up in the field".
A series win to England and man of the series award to Sidebottom.

Come on England!!

Good line and length there for Agnew.

  • 36.
  • At 10:11 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Chris Mitchell wrote:

So, do the England selectors still believe dropping Hoggard in such a public way was a good decision. Granted he did not bowl well in the 1st inning in the 1st test but the pitch was not at all bowler friendly. How many wickets do you think he would have got on that pitch in the 2nd test? He has been Englands best bowler for the past 5 years and dropping him after 1 test seems a bit extreme, especially when you have the liability of Anderson, who has shown time and again that unless the pitch is in his favour he gets plundered to all parts. Who do you think the Aussies would rather face? Hoggard or Anderson???? Come on selectors you have made your point, lets get Hoggy back in the frame next summer. Harmy however.... long way back for him.

  • 37.
  • At 10:17 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

The difference between Harmison and Sidebottom is obvious......Sidebottom is absolutely busting his guts to play and perform for England and has the pride and passion needed to perform at Test level. Harmison would rather be in Durham so put him out of his misery, rip up his central contract and tell him he'll never play for England again.

  • 38.
  • At 10:19 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Patrick wrote:

Never mind the NZ bowling coach urging on Southee from the sidelines, could someone - anyone, even a spectator - please go down to the boundary and remind Anderson that he should be aiming at the 3 bits of wood in the ground when he's bowling. Short & wide, short & wide - is the opposite of Glenn Mcgrath metronomic INaccuracy?! Such a contrast with Sidebottom - nothing extravagant about the deliveries, just demanding the batsmen play him.

Vaughan has failed to get close to a recall to the ODI side. Strauss failed miserably in County cricket when dropped from the Test side last summer and did little in NZ domestic cricket. Is Bell really going to delay the SA pace attack later in the summer??? Engl might well be lucky that SA officials are in the process of destroying their own team, following WI and perhaps NZ down the drain in terms of competitiveness.

Sorry England rescued again by KP and Sidebottom, and appalling batting from NZ. At lunch time NZ and Fleming in particular were taking them to the cleaners, once he was out the collapse started but not from excessively good bowling but from abysmal batting. Collingwood said 'Lack of confidence' ! If you cannot get confidence from that decisive win in Wellington, how can you get confidence at all ? I fear that this squad needs a complete clean out to get rid of all the old wood, and I would suggest its time to replace Vaughan, Strauss, Harmison, and send Anderson and Panessar back to county cricket to learn their trade properly. Anderson is far too eratic, and I have long maintained that 'Monty' lacks experience and variation in his bowling. A new skipper is a real must. Vaughan has lost the plot and England need a new and vigerous and 'tough' leader at the helm.

Vaughan failed again to get even close to a good score, and, although he's a great captain, if he doesn't produce any runs, then it becomes difficult to justify his place in the team.

Having said that England should win, as this whole series has proved, it utterly depends on the mental attitude of the players.

  • 41.
  • At 10:21 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • DaveC wrote:

This game perfectly illustrates why Matthew Hoggard should be preferred over James Anderson (at least at the moment). Yes, Hoggard can have an occasional bad game (the First test here), but overall has been England's most consistent performer for several years now.

Anderson on the other hand can look spectacular and, on his day, hand out a lesson to even a talented batting lineup. Unfortunately, he just doesn't seem able to string two or three performances together, let alone provide a consistent platform.

Sidebottom is a perfect example of why consistent solidity is always better for a team's overall well-being than blowing very hot one game and cold, with nothing in between.

  • 42.
  • At 10:24 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • shippo666 wrote:

I agree that Vaughans time may be up. I hope Strauss finds some form. I also think he did a wonderful job captaining the side in Vaughans absence for the home series against Pakistan in 2006 and should have been able to carry on through the following winter down under although i doubt the outcome would have been much different. He went about his job as captain in a quiet, confident, competent and sucessful way. Pakistan were no push overs with either bat or ball which we saw especially in the 3rd test before Mr Hairs unnecessary interference.
Strauss was treated terribly by the England set up and its no wonder he has suffered a loss of form ever since.
Good luck Straussy and hope to see the runs on the board and maybe you back in charge of the test team sometime soon. Perhaps we could finally consider giving Shah a run in the team too, just a thought ;-)

  • 43.
  • At 10:24 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Mark Kidger wrote:

Just before the start of play Ben Dirs posted a comment of mine that it was best to wait until New Zealand had batted to make a judgement about the state of the match in the light of yesterday's hysteria. Never a truer word... Let's wait and read that posts that it is terribly unfair for England to win unjustly thanks to one good performance and that we should recognise that New Zealand really won the match?

This match has definitely popped the Jimmy Anderson bubble: is this his last Test for a while? And could well be the last Test for Michael Vaughan as captain: should England lose he will almost certainly resign before he can be sacked; even if we win, as Nasser Hussain before him, he is finding that having a more successful - if only marginally - ODI captain is affecting his authority. However, in the 12 Tests that he has played over the last 2 years he still averages over 40, so the hysterical complaints that he is not worth a place in the team seem a little unjustified.

What price Andrew Strauss to make a second innings century and set an England win? Is that showing the sort of character that the critics have demanded, or a treasonable act that will "just paper over the cracks": do the fans really want it both ways?

Whatever happens, if England can win the Test with just two bowlers, questions need to be asked of New Zealand's batting too, a subject that the fans have glibly avoided.

Incidentally Jon, if this is the worst that you have seen, I take it that you were not following Zimbabwe's last few Tests, nor did you watch some of Bangladesh's debacles. However bad these two sides are, there is and has been far worse!

  • 44.
  • At 10:24 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Wycombe fan Dan wrote:

I decided to turn in last night at lunch and get some sleep as i had my whole family over for lunch - what a mistake!
A great fightback whilst NZ were playing the great wicket giveaway!

Now the family will have to put up with two hours of highlight, whilst i console myself that i could not missed a better session.

The only strange thing that i find an easter sunday lunch so important that i have to get some sleep is that i'm Jewish - oh the irony of falling in with other religions!

  • 45.
  • At 10:24 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • V S wrote:

Sidey (& earlier KP) have put back England in control of match.

What I am not able to make out which team has more poor top 6 or are they trying to out do each other on this issue ..

It would be good for English cricket that after this win (IF they win) a serious thinking is done about the approach to the game (esp. while batting). It was a mediocre oppositon they were up against, so they could bail themselves out (again, 1 man show - sidey),,, but they would not be that fortunate against good test teams (The Kiwi's neighbours)..

  • 46.
  • At 10:25 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • AgainsTTheWall wrote:

I saw the morning session and my thoughts are these.

The pitch is a offering frequent lateral movement and some occasional slight 'popping' which to my mind more than explains the low scores. The one redeeming feature is its pace.

How and Fleming played exceptionally well.

Jimmy bowled some rippers but did nt get the reward and his usual glut of over-pitched and short stuff got the treatment. Thats just how it is with JA. I expect in the second innings he'll contribute.

  • 47.
  • At 10:30 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

Sidebottom was outstanding and looks a true leader of an attack growing in threat. I like the look of Broad and the one disappointment(unsurprising to some extent)was Anderson. Typical that he follows the last test with a display like today. Nothing against the guy, he's just hugely frustrating. Hope he can learn about consistency from Ryan. One word of caution, this is a desperate NZ batting line-up and the likes of Smith and de Villiers later this year will prove how far they have come.

Not quite sure what to make of Vaughan and just wonder if the Ashes win, a young family and sensible investments for his future, has taken away his previous edge. I hope not.

  • 48.
  • At 10:32 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • david wrote:

I occasionally get a game for my local village cricket team but only when I'm lucky enough to take the phone call asking if my son's available. Next time Mooresy is after Messrs Sidebottom and Broad, I hope that Arnie and Chris pick up. Get 'em in to open the batting and bowling respectively.

  • 49.
  • At 10:35 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • pommefaraway wrote:

I can't understand why England continue to struggle away, yet leave the best batsman (Ramprakash), best wicketkeeper (Reid) and probably their best bowler (Caddick) at home.

England have picked much older batsmen than Ramps, so are they just afraid of admitting they made a mistake all those years ago when they screwed up his career by trying to turn him into an opener, just when he was finally starting to consistently make runs lower down the order?

And why not give Reid the same extended run they were prepared to give Jones and would have given Prior had he not messed up so badly? I know, he had a run years ago and was told to go away and improve his batting, so he did but that didn't stop Fletcher crucifying him in Australia after one or 2 tests.

And what more does Caddick have to do than take lots of wickets in county cricket to be worth a place above perennial failures like Anderson and Harmison?

Its some time since England have had the luxury of being able to leave top players out of the team.

  • 50.
  • At 10:36 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • scottishwolf II wrote:

Can we have Hoggard back now? I assume it should be the same rules for Anderson as for Hoggard - one bad game and you're out? It's just Hoggard has had 1 bad game in 67, whereas Anderson has about 1 good game in every 5.

I'm amazed anyone has expressed any surprise at him bowling badly in this match after bowling well in the last one. This is what Anderson is - totally inconsistent as he has proved throughout his career so far. I fancy if Hoggard had played, New Zealand would have been even further behind and you can guarantee he wouldn't have gone for 7 an over when the pressure was on.

  • 51.
  • At 10:43 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • David wrote:

Can we all stop this now, Please? Why do all the above fair-weather Cricket fans not find a fightback such as this heartening rather than an excuse to point fingers?

Whatever is said here, there is no magic county cricket bullet like many here claim there is. We are such a fickle force and have built our own culture of scapegoatism that we cannot now find any words of praise for a team that may find victory here even when they are struggling. Can we please start to support our team in good times and bad?
Can I remind those saying we need to compete with the likes of India and the Aussies, that they are great teams because they stick with players they know are quality through lean patches and nurse them through it to come out the other side world-beaters.
It's not too far back that a certain Matthew Hayden or Adam Gilchrist (and let's face it, Most of the Aussie line-up) were made to look very ordinary and at times amateur by a very good England side. And bar a flurry of retirements, they were all backed to come good and would still be picked (Katich as the exception) as their pedigree and History of class in their game would see them through these rough patches.

I back this team and it's captain (perhaps not the coach, mind) to come good and perform to the standard we know they can. The Cut and Shunt approach called for in many of these posts is not the answer. That way lies inconsistency and doubt.

  • 52.
  • At 10:46 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • reverse swinger wrote:

ok not bad; but on a cold & rainy holiday, the sun always comes out when you are just about to leave......

  • 53.
  • At 10:46 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Rob Lacey wrote:

will u lot all stp tlkin bout ow hollow dis win iz. i is a big crikkit fan nd kp is boss. siders bwlin az bin dope for ages. my local crikkit side cud beat dis bunch tho

  • 54.
  • At 10:52 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Mark Kidger wrote:

Michael Vaughan averaged 47.6 in 9 Tests in 2007 over 3 series. A failure?

  • 55.
  • At 11:03 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Arthur Wenga wrote:

NZ 'literally handed the advantage to England on a plate'?! Literally. So they actually brought a plate out on to the field? And that plate was Sidebottom-shaped. Is Sidey the new Wasim Akram, I wonder?
Strauss, though - what a player! There for his slip-catching? OOPS! He dropped one, did he? Still all is not lost- he may yet score a century and save us from the calamity of having to play Shah, who must be wishing he'd been born in South Africa. And that he couldn't bat to save his life. Or maybe that his skin was a tad paler. Conspiracy theories abound.

  • 56.
  • At 11:04 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

When things are not going well, a team needs someone to stand up and make themselves counted. KP did it with the bat, Sidebottom did it with the ball.

I like Vaughan, he's been a good captain and seems to have some interesting ideas on the field but maybe its time to hand the captaincy over after this test. As for the selection overall, maybe its time to give the likes of Shah and Bopara a chance. But people need to not jump all over them the moment they make a mistake like people have done with Ambrose

  • 57.
  • At 11:05 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • tom pickering wrote:

so a third rate team beat a fourth rate team, amd we are to get excited

and vaughn has to go

  • 58.
  • At 11:05 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Alan Norman Eastwood wrote:

I too turned the radio off just before the lunch interval and was amazed and delighted to see that England are back in the match. I hope that Vaughan can recover his form, it would be very sad if an England career that has had such stellar moments as his performances in Australia a few years ago, and winning the ashes, should peter out in a run of poor batting. England can afford to stick with him, not least because we do not have that big a pool of batting talent at test level.
For this match I hope England can prove that this is a good batting strip, if they don't it will still be open to New Zealand to win it. There is enough time for a long innings from someone.

  • 59.
  • At 11:15 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • captain-holiday wrote:

is it a coincidence that this miracle has happened on Easter Sunday??

Sidebottom couldn't be the son of....... could he?

All I'm saying is it's a little TOO convenient, don't you think??

  • 60.
  • At 11:17 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Greg T. wrote:


  • 61.
  • At 11:19 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Michael wrote:

On the subject of the Captain and his contribution with the bat. The contributions made by England specialist batsmen since the last Ashes (Including the current on-going test):

Vaughan: 12 matches. 884 runs @ 40.18. 100s: 2 50s: 4
Cook: 13 matches. 1093 runs @ 43.72. 100s: 3. 50s: 6
Strauss: 10 matches. 518 runs @ 25.90. 100s: 0 50s: 3
Pietersen: 13 matches. 1169 runs @ 50.83. 100s: 4 50s: 1
Bell: 13 matches. 917 runs @ 39.86. 100s: 1 50s: 8
Collingwood: 987 runs @ 41.13. 100s: 2 50s : 6.

On this basis, Vaughan's position is indeed becoming under pressure, as apart from Strauss, he has scored the fewest runs in the last calander year of all the batsmen on show in this test. A point of note, he has played one fewer game than Bell, Collingwood, Cook and Pietersen, and in this game, these four batsman all made centuries against a weak West Indian team.
You may remember my previous posts, in which I detailed that since the start of the Indian series, Vaughan had scored the most test runs of the whole England side. I.e. he was the leading scorer combining the India series in England, with the Sri Lanka tour and the first test of this New Zealand series. He has had two bad tests, while a few others have made runs. Consquently this situation has altered. He is under pressure for his place, but has only had one bad series in 4.

Are New Zealand the new Bangladesh? I think what we are seeing is the result of all the ODI and T20 cricket being played, batsmen seem cant play a test innings.

England should do no back-slapping should they win this. The inability of their players to perform consistently is of equal (or greater) concern.

The worrying times for cricket continue.

  • 63.
  • At 11:32 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Some of the things you read on this board are ridiculous, its all well and good calling to drop the entire england batting order because of a few bad performances but who is there to replace them?

The time to pick ramps has passed, maybe that should have happened a year ago, to get level with the top teams at the mo, SL and Australia for example, the best way is not to drop everyone. When the aussies had a bad summer in 2005, Hayden couldnt get into double figures and Gilchrist couldnt work out which arm Flintoff was bowling with, but neither were dropped, they worked through it and gained valuable experience, coming back to be better.

Sidebottom is not just a county bowler, hes the best bowler in england at the moment but you must remember the bowler who you would always throw the ball to to get a wicket was Andrew Flintoff, its no coincidence that since Flintoff has been crocked the balance has been out in the England team, he was a world class bowler and a destructive, if slightly inconsistent batsman, and when he comes back England will be a lot better for it.

Also any stat about Vaughan over the past 3 years is misleading as he was injured for much of it, he is a world class batsmen and should only be dropped if there is a viable replacement, not just batting wise, but as captain, the only other candidate is Strauss but imagine the furore if that happened.

If an England side low on confidence can get back to the UK with a 2-1 series win then hopefully by keeping the same line up, maybe bring hoggy back for anderson if anything, some consistency can be built and we can go from strength to strength in the future, rather than losing one series and dropping people who have performed so greatly in the past. So dont drop Pieterson, dont drop Vaughan, let them show their true class and maybe England will start winning again, remember it wasnt so long ago we won 8 straight test series culminating in the ashes, and then these boards can cease to be filled with stupidity and rash football supporter like demands.

  • 64.
  • At 11:43 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • chris ward wrote:

English people really are obsessed with wallowing in our own failures. Ok, so the England team hasn't performed its best on this tour but considering the almost non-existant warm up schedule they are now in a position where they should take the series 2-1 quite comfortably.

It is tiring to read constant critisms of quality batsmen like Strauss, Vaughan, Bell, etc from people who often can't even spell their names correctly. There is not a single player in the New Zealand team, not even their revered captain, Fleming, who averages over 40. The entire England top six averages in the forties. Even Gower only averaged 44 and to the person who suggested we drop KP, well, its clear you know nothing about cricket. You don't drop arguably the best player in a generation, who continues to average 50 even after a slump. I suggest you bitter people actually get behind the team and support them rather than demanding the sacking and the merciless dropping of players who two years ago you were singing the praises of. I too believe they could do better. Ramprakash may be knocking up 2k runs a season but, let's face it, he has had 54 chances to get it right already and there are hardly dozens of young batsmen hard on his heels.

Perhaps a little positive support might help. You know, Aussie style.

  • 65.
  • At 11:47 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Jonny P wrote:

I thank England for such bizarre inconsistancy that it makes following them so interesting( or should that be frustrating?) I've got to say I feel incredibly sorry for Hoggy who has to be one of the most reliable players for England for many a year. When you think of the rubbish being carried by the team, yes Vaughan I include you, Harmy etc he must count himself very unlucky.

  • 66.
  • At 11:52 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • John A. wrote:

Vaughan has not been the same batsman since his injury (and some time before that, too). I presume he retains his place because of his captaincy record; Mike Brearley couldn't bat too well, but was a brilliant captain. However, Vaughan's captaincy in the first part of NZs innings was a shambles. England were only rescued by poor NZ shot selection and the tenacity (again) of Sidebottom.

As for the batting, I think Strauss deserves a few games (at least the home series v NZ). He does have a good record and was treated pretty shabbily over the Ashes captaincy v.Freddie. I think Cook is a class act, and should be one of England's regular openers for the next few years. He is still learning. I like Anderson's bowling, but he needs to pick up some clues as to why he keeps getting clattered, and learn from it.

  • 67.
  • At 11:56 AM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • martin wrote:

I agree with most of the comments, but the comment about Kevin Pietersen being dropped is unbelievable, this guy is our best player by a long way and people should lay off his back a bit.

Harmison doesn't want to play for england so bomb him out, until he shows the desire that sidebottom, broad, panesar and flintoff when fit show.

problem with the batting line up is, WHO is out there to replace thislot? rtamps has had countless chances to peform at test level, gets dropped then returns to county level and scored hundreds of runs, he has not just started scoring runs at county level now.

Duncan Fletcher picked players such as Vaughan and Trescothick, who neither had great county levels but both have played very well at test level, we need to find some more players like these guys. with regards to ian bell, maybe to get dropped and realise his place is not guarented because he looks good, will help. when watching greame smith of SA he looks technically very very poor, but scores shed loads of runs. is bell the new ramps of hick?

  • 68.
  • At 12:01 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • pommefaraway wrote:

I don't understand, Andy, why the time to pick Ramps has passed. People are saying on this board that we don't have many other batsmen to replace the current crop with, yet you don't think we should pick the best of them all!!

Even if we only get a couple of years out of him it would be well worth while. And you'd be amazed at what a consistently successful batsman or 2 would do for the confidence of the rest of the team.

What can some of the alternatives do at 25-30 that Ramps can't do at 38-40?

  • 69.
  • At 12:01 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Patrick Bateman wrote:

All credit to Sideshow but I have to agree with Aggers: New Zealand are shockingly bad. I've seen more life in a tramp's vest.

  • 70.
  • At 12:01 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Keith Fletcher wrote:

If Hutton, Compton, May, Gooch and the other great players of the past had had the opportunity to play gainst teams like the current WI, NZ and Bangladesh their Test averages would certainly be in the 80's and possibly in the 100's.
Standards have slipped very badly.

  • 71.
  • At 12:04 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

Agreed Andy. Some people think changing the personnel will bring instant results. Wrong. Whoever they bring in will need time to settle in and get used to playing international cricket. Plus chopping and changing constantly is not going to help either

  • 72.
  • At 12:04 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Tony wrote:

Oh dear here we go again ..Strauss is (at least overnight) out of the gunsights and Vaughan and Jimmy A have got to go.... Is this kneejerkers inc?

Vaughan has had a thin series , true but his form since returning has been sound enough without setting the world on fire and he remains a very good captain.With whom would you all replace him?
Jimmy bowled a few loose deliveries over just 3 expensive overs and they all went for 4 along with a couple of balls that might well have had wickets.So how does this prove England can't afford him? What do you say if he takes 4/40 in the second innings?

The team is anything but perfect at the moment , they are battling back from a pretty low point two matches ago,and I imagine all places will be reconsidered in the next home summer in the light of form at the time.But just chucking out anyone who has a bad day is asking to return to the sort of revolving door selection of a few years ago which produced lots of one cap wonders and a world ranking of last.

Let us at least finish the match before we start shooting our least favourite players eh? After all from this position we really ought to win it. Sometimes I get the feeling a lot of people who comment on here don't really want that as it gives them less excuse to moan.....

And well bowled Sidebottom.

  • 73.
  • At 12:07 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • paul carew wrote:

Whoever said county cricket is 'The' problem should think again and look at the problem that England bowlers have had on recent tours - not enough bowling to get yourself into a match situation that requires you to put the ball in the right place at least 90% of the time. County cricket where you play day in day out is the sort of situation that you learn this. The Harmison problem is exactly this in that he just does not bowl enough and some hard work in county cricket would benefit him. The trouble with central contracts is that the balance has been shifted to such an extent that England bowlers now do not bowl enough outside Test matches where as years ago they looked tired and flogged out before they played for England. Sidebottom when I saw him play for Notts after not having seen him for a few years looked like a totally different player - confident, focussed and in complete control of what he was doing and I think county cricket helped him become the bowler we now see.

  • 74.
  • At 12:08 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

I agree totally Aggers. Bowlers have to learn their craft by playing lots of county cricket before being exposed to test cricket. Sidebottom is the perfect example of this. I hope that the likes of Harmison, Plunkett, and Mahmood will play a lot of county cricket at the start of next season, and get themselves test match fit...
One person that is ignored is Kabir Ali. Look at his strike-rate its as good as any bowler in county cricket. He's an excellent new ball bowler. Last season at new road for Worcester against Warwickshire, the innings Ambrose scored 251 not out, he was unplayable for 70 minutes.

Although, this has been a very interesting test series, it does look like a battle of the minnows. With a few exceptions, both sides have batetd very poorly. Even Flemming yesterday who's timing was sublime, was far too loose. Averages over a period of time don't lie. New Zealand are the poorest batting side out of every test playing nation with the possible exception of Bangladesh. Combine that with a no better than county standard bowling atack, England should really have given them a thrashing. I think we will in the summer. I would fully expect a 3-0 victory.

Ideally lets get a 500 lead and give ourselves 2 days to bowl them out.

  • 75.
  • At 12:10 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • John Charlton wrote:

As usual the commentators (BBC and SKY) have gone overboard. Slating England for getting 253 on a supposed flat track (the experts told us) before new zealand had even picked up a bat in anger. You can't say what is or isn't a good score til both teams have batted.
The scores show its not as flat as we were told. Why do people jump so quickly on Englands back. They are a good team who are lacking a bit in confidence but to give them so much vitriol when the other team had not batted is shallow. Get behind the team!!

  • 76.
  • At 12:11 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Alex Hawley wrote:

Another good match report Aggers for those of us whose DAB radios gave out in the early hours!

At the moment England as a team are playing indifferent cricket. Their competitiveness is being sustained by a handful of individual performances and by the consistent excellence of Sidebottom. In the same way that the relaunch of Sidebottom and the introduction of Broad has raised the acceptable performance bar for the England bowling unit, a similar impetus (perhaps Shah) is still needed for the batsmen this summer - irrespective of who performs well in the 3rd innings.

Flintoff's nascent comeback is good news and he should walk back into the team if his rehab continues to go well - but as a bowler predominantly, not at number 6. Only if he can score runs consistently down the order in the early summer for England should the selectors consider reverting to a 5 man attack.

  • 77.
  • At 12:18 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Dissy wrote:

England will fold under 200 giving a easy run to the hosts.

  • 78.
  • At 12:18 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • KjK wrote:

Vaughan will be captain for quite some time I fear. The introduction of Giles as team selector was a masterstroke by him. He knows that Moores may be enthusiastic and can spell positive thinking in mandarin but he is weak under pressure it seems and the more acolytes Vaughan has the better. He can see his days are numbered and wouldnt surprise me if he has used the IPL as a bargaining tool.

Get Tom Moody in now.

  • 79.
  • At 12:43 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • pj wrote:

"literally handed the advantage to England on a plate" lol

  • 80.
  • At 12:47 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • NS wrote:

How much longer will England allow Vaughan to be part of the proceedings?

  • 81.
  • At 12:57 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Dave Raverson wrote:

Vaughan's time up? Give it a rest. The man is a genius who has led Endland to numerous triumphs. The captain is an allrounder too, one part of his job is functioning and let's not forget he isn't alone in failing to go onto big hundreds.
Long live Sir Michael!

  • 82.
  • At 01:10 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • julian fainlight wrote:

worst case for england is Strauss making a large score that management think is a 'captain's' inning, then then sack Vaughan and replace him with Strauss - awful backwards move.

  • 83.
  • At 01:46 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • David C. wrote:

I wrote that county cricket is the problem. The point that Paul Carew (73) is missing, is that Harmison's poor form arises from his own attitude, not lack of county cricket.

I find it hard to understand how it can be argued that county cricket produces top-class performers if you look at England's international record since the mid 1970s. At any given point, there have been one or two players who, for varying periods of time, have transcended the mediocrity of county cricket either through determination (Atherton, Gooch) or inate talent (Botham, Flintoff), but only briefly 3-4 years ago did enough of these come together at one point to challenge the world's top teams....and very soon fell apart through injury and other circumstances. County cricket's inability to produce top-class cricketers precedes central contracts by a good quarter of a century.

To be blunt, what county cricket produces in large numbers are decent, hard-working mediocrities you would be happy to live next door to and socialise with, but to play in your test side? Not if you wanted to beat the current best teams in the world.

David C.

  • 84.
  • At 01:55 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Dave Winstanley wrote:

Once again, England have been saved by (the same) really well-organised bowler with a big heart and the nous to stick to the basics a la Glenn McGrath.
Like Angus Fraser, Ryan is really a throwback to the pre-1980's days when just about every county in England had at least one seam bowler capable of maintaining a testing line and length, because their game was built on discipline. Even Glenn McGrath would not have appeared so outstanding in that era. IF - and as with anyone, it's obviously a big 'if' - Sidey can stay fit and carry on as he is now, he looks good for three- to four hundred test wickets. His skills were also honed in county cricket - another arguement for dispensing with the Cenral Contract system.
Can't agree with Pommefaraway's comments about Andy Caddick - he turned in some good performances, but was every bit as brittle and inconsistent as Anderson and Harmison: remember the first session of the Ashes 2002/3 series, when he had promised 'I'm the man to lead England's attack'?

  • 85.
  • At 02:03 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Mike G wrote:

A lot of ridiculously negative nonsense in response to this article. Credit to England for forcing an advantage. NZ are not the strongest side in the world granted but there are quality players in there; notably Fleming and Vettori, and McCullum can be really dangerous. Southee looks a real prospect. and Chris Martin is a decent quick. Athough I have to say as a batsman he is spectacularly bad. A real jack.

England have put themselves in a position to win the series after a bad start. Sidebottom is outstanding and KP's cotribution in this test so far may prove decisive. It is ridiculous to write off a win because the opposition are apparently not that good - a win is a win.

I'd like to see a young opener tried out and Vaughan back at 3. If Strauss makes a ton here he will keep his place probably though and this MAY prove to be the fillip we need in the batting stakes.

I think we need Anderson to bowl well to create that competition with Hoggard and Harmy wanting to break back in. Flintoff may also come into the reckoning which would add real strength to the attack.

We haven't won this yet but I really hope we pull it off- a series win is a real necessity.

  • 86.
  • At 02:04 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • tinker wrote:

Im suprised some people are already talking about the 09 ashes.

Seriously get a grip on reality.

You lost the ashes 5-0 only a year ago and you are weaker now than then, this kiwi side is their worst in years and would have been thrashed by everybody half decent.

Don't get ahead of yourself.

beat south africa at home next summer and beat them convincingly and then maybe you can start thinking about the ashes.

  • 87.
  • At 02:09 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • DS wrote:

For all the people out there moaning about Vaughan and Strauss, let's focus on the positives. I can definitely see a strong bowling attack in the coming 12 months consisting of Sidebottom, Broad, Hoggard, and Panesar (Anderson is just to inconsistent at the moment though, but it doesn't mean he has no hope, he is what, 26? plenty of time to continue his development).

As for the batsmen, Strauss is definitely running out of time, and Shah could be given a chance, but stick with Strauss for the NZ series in England, not much at stake there. Bell is also at risk but I don't think there are any other good enough candidates for his spot, the only other option is Bopara and he looked seriously out of his depth in Sri Lanka. Flintoff could take his place when he comes back though.

And one last thing, move Collingwood back to 5!

  • 88.
  • At 03:35 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • jonathan wrote:

Although we have batted poorly recently do we really have a batch of better options waiting in county cricket?
The amount of pressure placed on our players as the demise of their entire careers are discussed in every format while they are actally playing is immense.
I think ricky Ponting said it best when he said 'we'll work as hard as we can to win the first test and the let the english media do the rest'.

  • 89.
  • At 03:38 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Roger Mayo wrote:

It is always very sad when TMS commentators speak wistfully about other entertainment while watching yet another England batting collapse.

How many times do some batsmen need to fail at this level to be de-selected? No big hit in the second innings should spare any of the top order batsmen. They have failed to reach the standard expected.

Strauss and Vaughan are below standard at this level. Why do the selectors continually deny county players the opportunity to perform at this level when players in the team fail? There are plenty of good county players. Ryan Sidebottom is evident proof.

The selectors seem to go for re-treads - which we all know let you down. Strauss was the easy choice. Oh dear!

Vaughan was ruthless with Harmi and Hoggard. Who will be man enough to be ruthless with Vaughan?

If England win – the selectors won’t take action because they’ll dress it up as a ‘great win’.

2-1 versus New Zealand? Please!

  • 90.
  • At 03:38 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Stuart wrote:

Just goes to show how bad the selection for the last Ashes tour was. To take Harmison, Plunkett and Mahmood and leave Sidebottom at home was a very poor decision seemingly purely based on the speed the bowlers could bowl. None of those 3 who went should feature for England in the near future. I think Hoggy will be back in the summer, just needs a few overs under his belt.

  • 91.
  • At 03:41 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • David C. wrote:

Tinker (87) is, I think, wrong in saying that we shouldn't be thinking about the 09 Ashes yet - it's a series against what is now and probably will be then the best team in the world, and English fans and the England management should be planning for that series as the ultimate challenge.

He's quite right though that the England team is currently weaker than that beaten 5-0 in the last Ashes, and that a good performance against SA next summer will be a good indicator of how much progress has been made in strengthening the side. It's got a fair way to go yet - getting accustomed to winning would be a good start so I hope that England can take advantage of their current reasonably strong position in Napier.

  • 92.
  • At 04:08 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Nicky Boje wrote:

I wish people would stop knee jerk reactions, looking at a scorecard each test and saying "Player A got 4 he must be dropped".

Get a grip people, it's as if Raymond Illingowrth has taken over all your bodies. I think most posters on here would need a squad of 50 each tour the amount of changest to the team they suggest!

  • 93.
  • At 04:16 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

I disagree with you David. I don't think theres too much wrong with our county game. A lot of our bowling problems have come from the Fletcher era when our bowlers were over-protected and didn't play any county cricket. I still believe that Harmison can get back to his best if he plays a lot more for Durham. I think a lot of the central contracted players have become isolated from their counties. I saw it with Ian Bell last season, the few times he played for Warwickshire, culminated in him being left out of the friends provident semi-final against Hampshire.

It always seems that whenever the England team struggle, the blame lies with county cricket. One of the problems is, that the pool of English qualified players has gotten smaller because of the Kolpak and EU players playing in our game.

Players, particularly bowlers are often brought into international setup without having played hardly any county cricket. Sidebottom is a shining example for county cricket.

  • 94.
  • At 04:30 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • jak p wrote:

well done sidebottom

what happens to hoggard now?

  • 95.
  • At 04:51 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Jon wrote:

A number of people seem to be suggesting dropping, Vaughan, Strauss, Bell and possibly Cook and Collingwood. But who would you pick instead.

For everyone you're gonna drop, name a suitable replacement to bat in that possition??

  • 96.
  • At 04:55 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Phil Hayes wrote:

I tied posting this on the "farewell" blog but it doesn't work for. In any case I think its a point demanding wider consideration, so what does the tem think?

"If a player is injured he is left out, and when fit brought back if he is deemed good enough. On the basis that one should not discriminate against someone who is suffering psychologically, I would have seriously considered playing Marcus for home matches only, if he were fit and willing, whilst allowing someone else the chance to prove their worth on tour.In fact I would still do this now, he is surely good enough to justify his place when fit.
Thanks, Marcus.Cricket is always exciting when you are at the crease, and the stats back up what a great player you are, And let's not forget the slip catches. Great stuff."

  • 97.
  • At 04:59 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Gringo Ted wrote:

New Zealand did not LITERALLY hand the advantage to England on a plate. That would be a metaphor. I'm surprised someone as seemingly educated as JA can make this mistake.

  • 98.
  • At 05:10 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Adrian wrote:

What a disgrace to English cricket our batting is. My solution:

1. Cook - back to his County to learn the art of leaving balls outside off stump.

2. Strauss - ditto above

3. Vaughan - immediate retirement. He is past his sell by date!!

4. Petierson - our only wotld class player

5. Bell - back to county cricket (hopefully for good!)He is too weak mentally

6. Colly - limited ability at international level. Stick to one dayers

7. Ambrose - bring in Colonal Mustard (what did he do wrong?)

8. Broad - very good

9. Sidebottom - Excellent

10. Monty - Good

11. Anderson - mentally not strong enough for test cricket.

That's 'The Verdict'!!

  • 99.
  • At 05:51 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • jonathan wrote:

you'd all make hopeless doctors - so many symptoms and no cures whatsoever.

  • 100.
  • At 06:12 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Dave Winstanley wrote:

Re Aggers' test record: three or four isolated tests, the two best balls delivered by an England bowler in the whole of the 1980's (Greenidge and Richards were the recipients, if I remember correctly: a fearsome lifter and a deadly nip-backer)and no prolonged run in the test side, as is the case nowadays. No, Aggers, you were underrated. Carry on giving your views!!

  • 101.
  • At 06:18 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Greig wrote:

Adrian 510pm

Great shout, drop most of the team and dont give us any alternatives of who you intend to play instead.

Anderson is the one who shouldnt be playing. One decent game every 10 is not good enough and I'm sure Hoggard could have had success on the previous pitch.

  • 102.
  • At 06:26 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Tim wrote:

If we dont win it now we dont deserve to be called a test team.

  • 103.
  • At 06:30 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • James Robinson wrote:

I haven't managed to read all of the comments (too many of them), but one thing is vitally clear - England are not performning, and there is one huge, gaping hole in the coaching setup. Let me explain ....

Maybe I am very short-sighted, but the best bowling display by England in recent years was during the successful Ashes series, when the big four (harmy, hoggy, jonesy, freddie) were all bowling as a unit. Who was the man behind this success? Troy Cooley.

Much as I like Ottis Gibson, and he had a wonderful county career, I cannot help but think that the departure of Cooley has weakened the bowling attack both mentally and tevhnically. Am I the only one who thinks that the lack of a decent bowling coach is the problem for all these wayward seamers??

As for the batting order, frankly I have no idea. Ramps is the best bet, but even he hasn't performed in the test arena as well as the county arena.

Answers on a postcard, please .....

  • 104.
  • At 06:40 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • bob barrett wrote:

Vaughan remains an enigma. He is still a world class bat on a good day - and was as recently as Colombo in December, where he scored a very classy 80 and would have got a 100 bar a freak dismissal.

I am more worried about his captaincy, which has been poor over the last two series, both tactically and his seeming inability to motivate the side when they are playing badly. Galle was a classic instance.

But it is no good sacking the whole batting line up unless you have some convincing alternatives.

Everybody talks up Ramps, but I can remember him slinking away from Englands victory celebs at Lords when he had bagged a pair!! He has failed for England time and time again.

And as for these new kids - who are they?? If they are so good, why arent they scoring double tons for the A-team?

  • 105.
  • At 06:58 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Adrian, you don't offer any alternatives apart from swapping Ambrose for a player who averages 27 in county cricket. Even if Ambrose fails with the bat tonight, he's still made an excellent start to his international career.

  • 106.
  • At 07:16 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • michael allen wrote:

It will be a relief to forget Harmison. His successful series against the Windies now looks like it was just a blast of good fortune. His opening ball at the start of the last ashes series showed that he doesn't have the temperament. As he misses home (even at his age) he should finally be allowed to stay there while earning his wages from Durham ccc rather than from the central contract system.

  • 107.
  • At 07:18 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Alan Thomas wrote:

Never in my life have I seen such a lot of nonsense as has been written on this board today -

Drop Pietersen -
(yeah someone who averages 50 and has scored 11 test centuries in the last 3 years)

Sidebottom is merely a county trundler -
(he has bowled well in every test innings since his return. If an Australian had 6 for 49, 5 for 106 and 7 for 47 in the last three test matches you would be lauding him as one of the best)

Bring back Ramprakash, Caddick and Read -
(Oh plllllllease!!! Ramprakash and Caddick are nearing 40 - how much longer can they play on - 2 years then you'll be back to the same place again. Read? if you had Botham & Flintoff at 6 and 7 Read would be fine at 8, but at present no way)

Drop Cook -
(a 22 year old with 7 test centuries and an average over 40, come off it!!!)

Winning this test match will be nothing to write home about -
(Any test match is worth winning, it raises the morale of the team

Bell and Collingwood have had their chance at test level and failed -(they average over 40, true they need to do better but then again Steve Waugh (and many others) hardly covered themselves in glory in their first four years of test cricket but they gradually learnt and became outstanding. Don't these people deserve that opportunity.)

Strauss should never play test cricket again as he is not good enough -
(if he was good enough to score 5 hundreds in his first 12 tests then he IS good enough. True he has had a run of poor form, so did Hayden, Ponting, Mark Taylor etc they came back)

I just wonder if some people deliberately write rubbish just for the sake of annoying other people.

Have some of these people forgotten the game of selectoral blind man's buff that was played all through the 1990's when hardly ANYONE got a chance to develop into a test player, the side was chopped and changed back and forth continuously and what did this achieve. Absolutely nothing!!!! It was only with the advent of Duncan Fletcher that a consistent team was built thus attaining a considerable degree of success.

If you really want to improve the test team then other factors have to be considered -

Remember that these players are playing international matches continually throughout the year without much of a break so it is no surprise that they suffer from loss of form -
An away test series Jan to March
7 home tests May to September
An away test series Nov to December
In addition there are a number of pointless and uneccessary one day competitions, 20-20 competitions in between the tests. Look at 2005 there was a triangular one day competition between England, Australia and Bangladesh, followed by a second one day competition between England and Australia. In 2006-07 you had a 'joke world cup' in September followed by the real World Cup in February.

Insufficient time is given for players to acclimatise for overseas tests, the Australian tour of 2006-07 did not even provide adequate match preparation for the first test. On the recent Sri Lankan tour performances suffered because not enough time was given for proper acclimatisation to the 100 degree heat and 90 per cent humidity. Players wilted and were unable to produce their best.

Isn't it time that the counties, cricket authorities etc got fully behnind the test team and backed them 100 per cent all the way like the Australians do.

  • 108.
  • At 08:01 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • jonathan wrote:

Finally some sense!
Nice comment Alan. I agree mainly but 2 points...
1) For 'pointless and unnecessary' read money spinning and crowd pulling, both unfortunately very necessary.
and 2) although no alternatives have really been mentioned in this whole thread the definition of madness is to keep repeating the same thing and expect different results. Some tweaking is needed in my opinion, however, as i said earlier, im not sure we have the quality in county cricket or solutions may have been posted already.

  • 109.
  • At 08:20 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Kevin D wrote:

I broadly agree with Alan Thomas' observations (post 106) - especially relating to the nonsense posts about recalling players aged 94, or thereabouts. Caddick had a serious injury and, unsurprisingly, lost that little bit of "bite". Ramprakash has already had substantial opportunity and ended with a test average WELL below ANY of the current incumbants. So long as Ambrose takes catches (something that Prior failed to do), he should stay, until someone can do a significantly better job.

As for those current incumbents, I agree with other posters who don't pretend to have the answers regarding possible replacements. A couple of things though:

1) Vaughan: Until recently, I agreed with the view that he has been England's best skipper since Brearley. However, there comes a time when everyone reaches a "critical" point of usefulness, and I just started to wonder whether or not that has happened to Vaughan.

2) Peter Moores: absolutely not the man for that particular position - need someone stronger with a determination that is VISIBLY steely.

3) Pietersen: anyone suggesting (seriously) that he should be dropped has no understanding at all of the mentality that is NECESSARY to succeed at the top level of ANY profession. He wants to win, score runs (LOTS), and take the smile off the oppositions face. Exactly what is needed.

One area where there will be a growing "problem" is the continuing expansion of the one-day game. It is a HUGE money earner for cricket and, for that reason alone, there is no possibility of a reduction in such games. Will it have a detrimental effect on the "long" from of cricket (i.e 3/4/5 day games)? Unfortunately, yes. But, cricket has developed into a business machine and there is too much money involved for the one-day game to be reduced. Ironically, this is necessarily so in order to pay players sums that are commensurate with professional sport. Test cricket on its own, like it or not, won't produce the same level of income. Personally, I don't like the situation, but it is reality.

Luckily, I kept this post short... :-)

  • 110.
  • At 08:32 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • oufc wrote:

We had already extablished siders was special - but not this special. Great figures. England need 350 lead and I wish Strauss luck and hope he gets a 100. KP back in form? Lets see...

  • 111.
  • At 08:41 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • oufc wrote:

'I just wonder if some people deliberately write rubbish just for the sake of annoying other people'
what do you think you are doing. Cook, KP sidders why would you drop englands finest. I take your point about strauss but are you saying none of the players in the internatinals should be. The others do well in COUNTY not INTERNATIONAL cricket. Thanks for putting in an angry mood. U R comparing these guys to the all time greats. Thats not always a fair comparison. England are on top so who cares what else is going on. Drop pietersen and englnad would have got under 150 in the 1st innings. UTTER RUBBISH.

  • 112.
  • At 08:52 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • unclephil wrote:

I think this just goes to show what a wonderful game test cricket is. England were were written off after the first half hour, day one and again at lunch on the second day only to now be in the driving seat. For all the excitement of one day and 20/twenty you don't get the kind of roller coaster ride that the five day game can produce - long may it continue!

  • 113.
  • At 08:53 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • The Buzz wrote:

Some people are going overboard with there assessments and some have too much faith in the team.

Some people think Vaughn shouldn't be dropped, despite him averaging 23 in this series. Ok so you keep him in the team for the home series against NZ and if he has another bad series, are you still going to stick with him. To some of you people, how bad does a player have to do before getting dropped? So you can be a bad player and in bad form and keep your place? Ridiculous. There's no accountability in the battling line up.

Hoggard has one bad game in a few years and is instantly dropped. We've got quality bowlers, I like Sidebottom, Hoggy, Jimmy, Broad, Panesar, with Rashid waiting in the wings and Flintoff to come back.

I think realistically Strauss and Vaughn need to be dropped. I'm not sure who needs to be brought in, Shah & Ramps? Don't give me that bull that Raprakash is too old. If he could help us win the next 4 series for example, you'd decline that just so you can develop a younger player for the future? The aim is to win now or win the next ashes.

Also drop Ambrose, no joke, just play the best wicketkeeper, forget the batting of the keeper. Reid is the best keeper.

  • 114.
  • At 09:10 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Not be privy to seeing the match (are there any TV highlights other than Sky, which I'd rather do without) I was just wondering that with the low scores and the view that Sidebottom bowled very well, that maybe the pudits who said it was a flat track made for batsmen got it very wrong! It is just a thought.

  • 115.
  • At 09:57 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Kevin D wrote:

Gotta post again in response to yet another pro Ramprakash post.

Tests: 52
Ave: 27.32

Also, he never scored a century in the first four tests in a series - both his hundreds came in a 5th test). Further, in isolation, his average over the first two tests of any series was less than 20.00.

MR is a great county player - miles above average, but simply unable to translate enough of that form into consistent, meaningful, contributions to Test cricket. 52 tests shows that.

Hick (65? tests) is another who falls into precisedly the same category (and, happens to have a better test average than MR).

Source of stats: Cricinfo.

Just to be clear, I have no personal problem with MR - I simply don't think he is good enough (at TEST level).

  • 116.
  • At 10:13 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

This is my team for the 1st test in England

Opener whose got county runs
Someone whose got county runs
Hoggard (or someone whose got county wickets!)

  • 117.
  • At 10:14 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • JB wrote:

I think that the reason why england performances are poor or abismal at times are because of the central contracts.
The central contracts are where the ECB pay the players wages and therefore not paid by their counties. As a result the players very rarely play for their county teams. for example KP at Hampshire or Ian Bell at Warwickshire. These players are called up for england and play in the test matches/ODIs etc whether they are playing well or not. This is because they don't play for their counties that often to get the match practice and fitness. You can only do so much in the nets and can only get to a certain level of fitness in the nets, you need match practice. This is why I think that the england players performances are poor with the bat/catching etc.

I also think that players should be given a chance and a long run in the team as it takes time to bring success and if you keep changing the team this will cause disruption to the team. Batters will form understandings with each other - which is important when batting together and building partnerships. Bowlers can work in tandem with each other and have variation (Sidebottom Left handed, Broad height)
My england team would be:
Flintoff (when fit)
Ambrose (wkt)
(Harmy too inconsistent, Hoggard and Sidebottom too similar)
If the players played more for their counties then they would be in better form and fitter and as a result more consistent.

  • 118.
  • At 10:26 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • Ieuan wrote:

* 107.
* At 07:18 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
* Alan Thomas wrote:


I was just about to write something very similar.

Anyone calling for the dropping of Cook, Pieterson, Bell or Collinwood needs to get a reality check. Cook and Pietersen have done great jobs for England in the past few years and Bell & Collinwood have both on the whole done good jobs, have improved just about year on year and are still improving as players. To drop them now would be stupid, especially with no real sensible replacements.

Bringing back Ramprakash would have been a good option a year ago before the ashes, it is no longer the case.

Strauss and Vaughan I an torn on. I do think that Strauss should be dropped, but dropped and allowed to go back and play a full season of county cricket before being reconsidered as opposed to cast aside, the man HAS got the talent and ability, he just has no form or confidence.

Vaughan is difficult, he is a far better captain than any of the other options and again has the talent. If Strauss is dropped I would stick with Vaughan for the time being if only to not unsettle the side too much.

So basically I would only drop Straus, I don't know who I would bring in but I hope to god it is neither Shah (who will never be good enough) or Bopara (who needs moe county experience). Perhaps give a chance to a player who has performed in domestic cricket, Ed Smith perhaps who has a good average from last year, or a second chance to see how Rob Key have come on since the last time. Alternatively there is Mark Wagh who has performed well for a couple of years now and would open and allow Vaughan to drop down to 5 and thus relieve a bit of the pressure on him.

The WK question still hangs over England. Well I say stop playing around with it. let Ambrose stay in the side for 10-20 tests and then judge him. So far he looks a little naive at times but not out of his depth.

Bowling, for me Sidebottom is a very good bowler and it is a credit to him (not county cricket) that he went away and improved so much. He earned is spot and has rightly maintained it. Stuart Broad also has done well enough to deserve a proper run in the team (again at least 10-20 tests), he has real talent and is clearly a class above recent try-outs like Mahmood, Plunkett and co.

I would bring back Hoggard, he is a great player for me in that he will only let you down once in a blue moon, he certainly deserves another chance. Probably at the expense of Andersen, who is a great condition bowler and should be retained in the squad for those tracks where you want an extra seamer/swinger. Panasar is another to be retained, honestly he is by far the best spinner we have.

The one bowler I haven't mentioned is Flintoff, I wouldn't even think about picking him this season. Let him spend a year proving his fitness in county cricket. My thinking there is if we bring him back as one of 4 bowlers then he will be required to do too much work. Yet we cant bring him in as a fifth (and batting at 6) until he is fully back to form and fitness.

Anyay here is the 11 I hope to see in the next test.


  • 119.
  • At 11:09 PM on 23 Mar 2008,
  • jacob wrote:

Oufc (post 111) I think you missed Alan Thomas' point (post 107).
he Isn't saying drop Kp and cook and the rest of them, he is pointing out the blatant daftness in those statements made by others.
Quote "Drop Pietersen -
(yeah someone who averages 50 and has scored 11 test centuries in the last 3 years)"
See what he did there? He made that comment (made by others) look stupid by comparing it to his average and n.o of centuries. It's really tricky to grasp, but if you look closely, what he was trying may become evident.

On the cricketing note, I think if Strauss posts anything above 70 today, providing he doesn't throw his wicket away, he should be kept on for the next few matches. It would be insane to drop a once prolific batsmen just as he seems to get out of a recent and disastrous slump.

  • 120.
  • At 12:30 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • evan wrote:

being a keen kiwi supporter I was absolutely livid at our pathetic batting...after fighting our way to a postion of dominance at lunch on the second day...and then to throw it all away. Some of those blackcaps need a right good earbashing...wheres the grit, the graft, the spine?? full credit to sidebottom, he did bowl with supereb discipline all day long, but to be fair most of our batsmen got out playing pretty horrific shots. Ive never been so angry listening to a cricket game!!

  • 121.
  • At 12:42 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Alan wrote:

Strauss: I think he has the basic technique and has proved in the past that he can be a very effective contributor. As a Statistician I am also impressed that the number of times catches have been dropped off his batting when scoring big totals is quite small.

Vaughan: o.k., he's certainly an inspiring captain, but that's about it. Of course he has scored an excellent number of centuries, but usually relatively low hundreds unfortunately. Much more damning in my eyes is that in so very many of these 100s he was dropped before getting into double figures. He's also quite dozy in the field. Come in, Michael, your time is up!

Ramprakash: He's a far better batsman than Bell could ever be, and like Boycott and John Edrich in their days is a very greedy one, always striving to score 150 when he's reached 100,and so on. With his form - and maturity of approach - in the last 3 or 4 seasons he is by far the most successful English qualified batsman in the longer version of the game, and his fitness and fielding are an inspiration to many players 15 or 20 years younger. How many people remember that in his last home Test before being dropped he scored an excellent 'ton' - against Australia. What the hell were the selectors up to at the time, and what are they still up to? I say "Bring back Ramps" and as soon as possible - he will immensely strengthen the batting and will be inspirational to the rest of the team. Incidentally, look at his 'stats' in the shorter forms of cricket with Surrey - in a successful team he has consistently out-performed many of the supposed whiz-kids there (many of whom were playing for England)!

As for captain, surely the time has come for getting Mike Brearley into the act and teaching the two or three serious candidates how to develop and hone their skills in this area.

  • 122.
  • At 08:05 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • R Macdonald wrote:

Read the above comments with interest.

It's rather amusing to see the derision directed at NZ now that England has the upper hand. The English fans came into this series expecting to walk all over a weak Test team and instead had to face a loss in the first Test. So how about showing a little respect to the Kiwis for at least giving some fight - a lot more than I, a Kiwi, would have expected against the number 3 team.

Neither team is in brilliant form right now, and you can't get all superior when your deplorable batsmen (sans Pieterson) were rescued by one chap with the ball.

It's nice to see some decent cricket from England in this innings, and I only hope the Kiwi batsmen can emulate that.

  • 123.
  • At 04:01 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • jockpaddy wrote:

There was a lot of "whistling Dixie" going on from England at the start of this tour - an air of confident condescension layered over stark terror (the "if we play to our potential..." sort of thing).

The current form book, plus home advantage, meant that NZ could have had a reasonable chance of winning - an honest and long batting line-up would have made them difficult to beat, at least.

Two factors have come to England's rescue, however - Sidebottom has found the form of his life, and NZ have not replaced Bond. Southee looks like he shall become a major star of the game, but he is a coming force, rather than the finished article.

  • 124.
  • At 08:26 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • alex wrote:

12. At 08:46 AM on 23 Mar 2008, Richard Hemmings

you could not have made a much better call brill engalnd batting wow i never thought i was gona say that

  • 125.
  • At 12:45 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Tom wrote:

For Sidebottom to have done so well is a great testimony to his character. Being dropped originally must of been difficult, but an extended stint in county cricket has awoken him and now he is England's most reliable bowler.

It is with apprehension therefore that I watch the inclusion of Stuart Broad in tests. A vastly inexperienced bowler (but no doubting a supremely talented young man) is always a worry. The question 'Plunkett who?'is a common England enquiry. We can't rush the development of these players or like Sidebottom they will fade away for years and possibly forever.

However; we must as a nation take risks with the team, if that means taking Vaughan out and making Collingwood Captain DO IT! Against Australia we need to take risks and I am overjoyed that the selectors took the risk of recalling Sidebottom, with the selectors no doubt chuffed at the risk paying off; I would be nervous especially if my name was Michael Vaughan. Correct field positions won't always be enough to guarantee a place.

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