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Strauss's ton not quite a virtuoso performance

Jonathan Agnew | 07:45 UK time, Monday, 24 March 2008

Napier: day three of third Test - This was a truly staggering performance by Andrew Strauss, and an innings which lends us great insight into his character.

This was his last chance saloon, and he and everyone knew it.

Therefore to bat eight hours for his highest ever Test score (173no) was remarkable – particularly because in terms of technique he still had problems.

Indeed, this was a personal victory in spite of technical shortcomings which were exposed again when the second new ball was taken and he was well past his century.

Time and again he was beaten outside the off stump by Chris Martin as his front foot remained rooted in within the crease, but it seems inconceivable that he will not play in the first Test of the summer against New Zealand at Lord's...

We must all hope that his footwork returns to normal as a result of the confidence he will have gained from the runs he has scored here.

Ian Bell put on a batting masterclass

The best innings of the day came from Ian Bell, who looked in glorious form as he scored his seventh Test century. I can’t remember seeing a better innings than this for a long time.

His cover driving was exquisite, and he really put into context the weakness of New Zealand’s bowling attack and the benign conditions.

England have clearly done enough now to set up the victory they need to win the series, and they will be hoping for another inept display by New Zealand’s batsmen.

But, like Strauss, Jamie How, Matthew Bell and Matthew Sinclair have a lot to prove – there is a team to tour England to select at the end of the match and all three are under pressure.

And there is also Stephen Fleming’s final innings in Test cricket to consider.

But Ryan Sidebottom has the sign over most of New Zealand’s batsmen now, and Stuart Broad is improving with every outing.

Personally, I hope we see some guile introduced to Monty Panesar’s bowling. There is not much turn but there is a little bounce and Panesar will have to tease batsmen out through subtlety rather than help from the pitch.

I am not expecting him to take 5 for 70 (if he did, it would be outstanding) but I do hope we see more in the way of experimentation.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:13 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Richard wrote:

Jonathan - the moment you wrote off Strauss yesterday it was inevitable he would hit a big score!

Well done Strauss, and maybe have a little grace to accept you got it wrong.

One of the things that has made the Aussies the most awesome side in test history is that they don't rush to drop their players when they go through bad patches. They stick by them until the good times return. We all have ups and downs, and hopefully now Strauss is going to hit a purple patch.

  • 2.
  • At 08:25 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Gav Vallance wrote:

well done Strauss!
A great relief to us all - lets hope a big score brings back his best batting!

Step up Ryan Sidebottom - he deserves to be on the winning team in this series and I hope he can pinch man of the match from any big scoring batsmen.


  • 3.
  • At 08:29 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • alex wrote:

Once again, England's top order batsmen score runs when under no pressure whatsoever

  • 4.
  • At 08:34 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Nick Tierney wrote:

I have never heard the phrase "have the sign over".
I assume it is a colloquialism but I wonder where from?

  • 5.
  • At 08:36 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Venus wrote:

Personally, I am very happy for Strauss. He is an excellent player and yes, like everyone he's got his share of bad patches to go through! Quite right Aggers, he was far from his best and yet sticking around for 8 hrs shows the man's character!! And all you folks who think this England side needs to bench 3 of the top six, well I still guess this is the best England top six, yes they fail but they are a match to any of the world top six - Australia, SA, Sri Lanka, Parkistan, of course India whom I would argue to be the best at this moment!!
All said and done, I am really happy for all centurions - KP, Strauss, Bell all my personal favs!! they always had it do well!! which they have.. I hope Vaughny can do the same wid the bat, sooner than later... did I hear someone say 'weak in his knees' :P

  • 6.
  • At 08:42 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Ian Bell wrote:

Ian Bell's innings was incredible


Strauss works things out for himself. I am sure that he listens to Andy Flower and Co. but in the end he tries to solve his own problems. He knew that he had to show that he is a Test opener. That, like Alastair Cook, he has the mental capacity and the technique to be the spine of an team innings. I watched most of the closing stages of his knock today and he was playing much as he does in the early overs. It actually helped Andrew that Vaughan was out early. he batted, as he had to, as an opener.

In the First home Test I hope to see Strauss and Cook open with Vaughan dropping down the order. I am delighted that Strauss, a class act, has remembered what he is good at.

  • 8.
  • At 08:45 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • tony ferney wrote:

Re (1), we all got it wrong or at least most of us did, I imagine, so your comment about "a little grace" is... well, graceless.

One thing is certain though: England can't possibly lose.
Oh dear, perhaps I got that one wrong as well.

  • 9.
  • At 08:46 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Nick Hadley wrote:

At the risk of sounding a bit of a curmudgeon, and I am pleased for the likes of Sidebottom, Strauss and Bell, but this New Zealand outfit must be one of the weakest teams masquarading as a Test side in the history of international cricket. Strauss will get a sterner examination when he comes up against an English county side in late April and, as efficiently as Sidebottom has bowled, these must be the cheapest Test wickets he will ever earn. Overall, the standard of this current series in New Zealand has been laughably bad with only Bell (Ian, not Matthew!!), Pietersen and Fleming occasionally lifting it above the mediocre. It's gone a long way in convincing me that the overall standard of international cricket is slipping alarmingly with a steadily declining Australia still some way ahead of a pretty humdrum bunch of teams like South Africa, India and England. I've just been watching a bit of the West Indes v Sri Lanka Test and that's mind-numbingly poor as well. A soulless game of ordinary cricket being played out in front of an empty stadium. Ghastly stuff.

  • 10.
  • At 08:47 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Robin wrote:

Two dismal teams. Shame one of them will be crowned as 'winners'.

  • 11.
  • At 08:47 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Dr. Cajetan Coelho wrote:

England batting has looked quite purposeful. Great knocks by Strauss and Bell. Useful contributions from the rest so far. Kiwi skipper Dan Vettori bowled almost one third of the overs his side sent down in the second innings. He is indeed a top quality allrounder in today's cricket.

  • 12.
  • At 08:49 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • El-Ginge-XI wrote:

congratulations strauss fantastic innings
completely agree with you ja about his footwork they are still in a world of their own!
bell was stunning today awesome display of beautiful strokes
knock em over england!

  • 13.
  • At 08:49 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Sam wrote:

Well said Richard. So he scores 173 but its not good enough because he didn't do it with enough technique? I doubt there are many batsmen who would swap a classy duck for a century which had half the elegance of Strauss' 173.

And if this pitch was so easy to score massive hundreds on, where were the runs from Vaughan, Collingwood, Pietersen and indeed the whole of the New Zealand batting line up?

Adding to the comparison with the Aussies, I very much doubt you would see them criticising a player approaching a potentially match winning double hundred. Perhaps it is this kind of attitude that shows why they are so far ahead, they care about winning and little else. So lets start to win, alot, and then we can worry about technique.

  • 14.
  • At 08:52 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Adam Zabel wrote:

Regarding, the best innings of the day, however fluent, and at times, destructive Bell's innings was, one must congratulate Strauss on a determined and decisive innings, both in fully taking the game away from New Zealand and also resetting himself as the player everyone knows he can be. Yes, his footwork at times was not perfect and yes he was beaten outside the outside edge, but still he stands at 173no following some comendable handwork, notably a few times against Vettori through the offside which rectified poor footwork. I fully hope, and touchwood expect, Strauss to notch his first double century tommorow in the first hour or so then for the bowlers to take charge before lunch.

  • 15.
  • At 08:54 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Bish-Northampton wrote:

While I am genuinely pleased for Straussy I have to balance the fact that he has played a marathon innings against a very weak attack-no Oram or Mills and Elliott is not a bowler a Test batsman will have sleepless nights about.
However,Strauss needed to spend time at the crease and he has certainly done that-let's hope his confidence soars as a result and he fully returns to form.

  • 16.
  • At 08:55 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Wello wrote:

Andrew Strauss is a proven, battle-hardened test player who like most cricketers went through a bad patch. Throughout the lean period he experienced, he continued to train as hard as is humanly possible whilst giving precious energy and commitment in the field.

He now has 11 test centuries including 3 scored in South Africa and 2 against the mighty Australians (as many as Mike Atherton and Alec Stewart managed in their whole careers) showing beyond all doubt what a fine cricketer he is. To discard him after a bad year Aggers would have been the ultimate folly.

If England fans want 11 players on the park who are passionate about playing for England then 1 of those has to be Strauss, and today he showed he's got what the older generation might term 'a bit of ticker.'

Well done Straussy - now let's win the match.

  • 17.
  • At 08:55 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Warren Potter wrote:

Grit & guts. I think, with his innings, Andrew Strauss has given an inkling of what has been lacking in the English team's performances of late & hopefully for England, some of the others will sit up & take notice. Strauss is one of the few batsmen in the England side who is proven at international level & with the skipper in such abysmal form, it was absolutely critical that he found some form of his own. One decent innings is a long way from securing a continued regular position in the side but experience is needed at the top of your order &, with neither Vaughan or Strauss scoring, things were always going to be bleak for England.

The irony is that Strauss' knock has now added a little more pressure to the skipper. With Strauss scoring runs, England have the solidity to afford to experiment with a young replacement for MV.

My suggestion for the selectors ... leave Vaughan out & appoint KP as skipper. He has the support of Collingwood (and possibly Flintoff)for the next series & his temperament & arrogance is well suited to success. He will thrive under the additional pressure. I only need refer to Graeme Smith of South Africa here for vindication of this comment. His self-confidence & gutsy, never-say-die attitude is what I'd expect to see in Pietersen if he were in charge.

Well done to Andrew Strauss & Ian Bell for showing that there is a little fight & backbone in the English top order.

  • 18.
  • At 08:57 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Steve C. wrote:

It may not have been a virtuoso performance but what an effort by Strauss.
Regardless of what we do in life, not many of us find such a stark challenge to our careers, a real "D day". For Strauss to go out to bat knowing that a failed innings would probably end his test career, and to then produce his highest ever test score is "Boys'Own" stuff.
Whether it is the beginning of a purple patch, who knows, it's 3 months to the next test match.
However he lives to fight another day.

  • 19.
  • At 09:06 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Pete Roberts wrote:


Never have I seen more grudging praise of someone who has just got their highest test score.

Strauss has been given a tough time over the past two year. The selectors decision to go for the "Botham" rather than the "Brearley" two years ago was almost certainly the key factor in his loss of confidence and the press have had the determination of rotweiler with lockjaw in trying to destroy one of our most successful cricketers in recent years.

Of course Strauss has has the misfortune to have his run of bad form at the same time everyone else has dipped but with him Bell and Pieterson all get 100's in this game perhaps the media experts will start to talk up the positives rather than look for every crack in performance.

Oh, but they cant do that, then their performance might be bought into question

  • 20.
  • At 09:09 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

Who said we were bad at test cricket. Strong batting (Strauss Bell and Pietersen cementing thier places) and a new era in bowling (Sidebottom and Broad). One more thing - BRING UP LUKE WRIGHT THE BEST NEW TALLENT IN ENGLAND (and dump Vaughn and make Colly Skipper.

  • 21.
  • At 09:12 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • John Harrison wrote:

Very pleased for Andrew Strauss. The selectors must feel vindicated, but I still think Owais Shah deserves a proper run in the team. It's hard to see at whose expense, though.

The best batting, however, was definitely from Ian Bell. What an innings! The idea that some people - ie Bob Willis - were talking about Bell being the next man under pressure after Strauss seems ridiculous, especially as Muchael Vaughn was playing so horribly.

Anyway, win this series, 3-0 against NZ in Britain then a confidence-boosting thumping of SA. Who knows for 2009?

  • 22.
  • At 09:12 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Genghis Cohen wrote:

I'm pleased for Strauss, but I really feel for Shah. It was a blow to play Bopara ahead of him in Sri Lanka, and then criminal to draft Strauss straight back into the side in New Zealand when nothing had changed since he was dropped in the autumn. If England are selecting teams on merit, Shah should have been playing this tour.

And I hope the improvements in this test aren't used to paper over the cracks in England's batting line up. Only Cook, Pietersen and Bell have the quality to claim a place in the side while not delivering. Collingwood has almost reached par this series, Strauss has struggled (even yesterday) and Vaughan just hasn't turned up with the bat. Assuming Strauss is given a bit longer to return to form, how long can Vaughan go on not making runs?

  • 23.
  • At 09:13 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • james reynolds wrote:

I think you're exercising selective memory loss here. The aussies lost the 2005 largely because they refused to leave gillespie out. They also left michael clarke out for a period of lost form. Also can't remember who batted 6 for them on that tour, but I'm fairly sure he hasn't played since.

Strauss has lots more to prove before he's back permanently. His technique still has the same flaws which will be exploited by a decent bowling attack.

  • 24.
  • At 09:13 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Mark Kidger wrote:

It's a pity that many fans were praying for Strauss to fail and will regard his century as a treacherous act. Over the last two days he has shown the kind of character that the rest of the top six have lacked and that the fans have been begging them (at least, any of them bar Strauss) to show.

I am delighted for him. Next stop the double century and a declaration. Hopefully England will look for some quick runs and will declare well before lunch to allow more than 5 sessions bowling at New Zealand. If Tim Ambrose could get a 50 before the declaration, that would be the icing on the cake. The weather forecast is promising, with cloud, but no rain, so there should be something in it for the bowlers.

Incidentally, for those statistically challenged people who think that beating New Zealand 2-1 is a dreadful result or a hollow victory, England have not won a series in New Zealand since 1996/97 as the last series was drawn. In fact, of the last 5 series that we have played in New Zealand, we have lost one and drawn two. Since 2003/04, New Zealand have only lost a home series to Australia. Let's settle for the win with good grace - if we can close it out - and use the result to build for the two summer series.

  • 25.
  • At 09:17 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • John P wrote:

I actually agree with Aggers here.

Tremendous effort to get such a big score but Strauss does have problems with his technique. He will play for England for a long time now but 1 swallow does not make a summer.

  • 26.
  • At 09:18 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • subsub wrote:

Hmm....bit of backtracking from Aggers!

Yesterday, Strauss is "destined for the scrap heap", and he goes out and hits his highest-ever Test score, and Agnew starts whingeing about his footwork!

Just admit you were wrong - we won't think any less of you, Aggers!

  • 27.
  • At 09:20 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • stephen mason wrote:

I find a lot of what has been written about this series bizarre.

I am not sure why people can't live in the present rather than harking back to the old days. How can you possibly compare cricketers from the past with those of the present. There seems to be a mass nostaligia that everyone was better in the past>

As someone who doesn't fully understand how players declare a pitch to be "this and that", i wish that everyone wouldn't say this pitch is x therefore y is going to happen.

Each delivery in a game has so many variables going into it, which is what makes cricket so great. So to say, pitch is flat therefore everyone should score a 100 is complete nonsense.

In the end why don't people remember that it is a game and mistakes are as a part of it and what makes the thing interesting.

How many batsmen are truly out to wonderful balls ever? The thing is they have a split second to make a decision.

It seems that we have a lot of Arsenal or Man united type supporters on here that only support teams if they are the best. Perhaps they should support Australia to find that monotonous regularity of winning.

  • 28.
  • At 09:21 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Alex M wrote:

Well Done Strauss!!!

Fantastic Innings

However, I was starting to question to divine right to play in the team in tests,

But I rate even your present form/contribution excluding your massive score of 170 odd and your cricket brain more than Michael Vaughns.

Your record as captain is superb!

If Vaughnie gets dropped which I believe he should, I would select you as captain!!

come on sidebottom ...

  • 29.
  • At 09:29 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

There is an old adage that form is temporary, class is permanent. Strauss has proved himself against some top sides in the past but recently has been in a huge slump. Time will tell if this innings will get him back into form but when he is at his best there is no doubt the batting order looks more solid. The worrying thing about Ian Bell is his tendency to let the bowlers dominate for long periods. Despite his brilliant and dominant innings here today, too often he has struggled to impose himself when the going gets tough. When you are batting with KP it is not a good idea to farm the strike with a long period of dot balls. Owais Shah is not the answer. What this team needs is the right attitude and strong leadership - like it had three years ago.

  • 30.
  • At 09:30 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • gazzer wrote:

Whatever gives you the impression Jamie How's under pressure? Relatively speaking, he's been a big success this entire summer.

  • 31.
  • At 09:32 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Kate wrote:

I klnew there was a reason for me to do nights this weekend so that I could see Bell who I saw hit his last hundred at Lord's last summer and Strauss get his hard won century last night!! I was so excited I then had to explain it to the people I was working with!! I can't wait to go back to work tonight so I can listen to TMS and watch Sky Sports in my break, and do some work in between overs!! Good luck to them tonight!!

  • 32.
  • At 09:33 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Andy Whippet wrote:

Excellent to see a man so out of touch and confidence come through from shear determination and bloody mindedness.Pretty it was not, but a great test of character has been achieved.Hopefully Strauss can rebuild his technique and justify his Test place.
But what has happened to Michael Vaughan? I'm not sure he is an ideal opener-he likes to drive while the ball is still swinging(he may feel he needs to set positive example with some aggressive strokes like the one that did him this innings)so maybe he needs to drop down a couple of places,and put Strauss back up top.Pietersen should stay 4,so I'd put Bell 3,MP 5,and Collie 6.
When Freddie is really fit and justifies his place as a bowler,bring him in for Anderson and bat him 7,Ambrose 8,Broad 9,Sidey 10 and Monty 11.
Thats a strong tail!

  • 33.
  • At 09:40 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Rob Whittle wrote:

Strauss has delivered with big runs. It says something about his character and guts, rather than technique. He has pull England in a position where they can win this match. So well done, and I hope Strauss gets the NZ series in England.

Strauss will find it more difficult at Lords etc, whilst his home ground, greater lateral movement will find his "no man's land" feet out early on with the new ball.

Hope he gets it right! Few lessons from Geoffrey B?

  • 34.
  • At 09:43 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

I think that although Strauss has scored a wonderful century (nearly double century) I think it is too little too late and they should give someone like Key or Carberry a chance also I feel that Vaughan is in abysmal form and should be dropped with Collingwood replacing as captain as for Flintoff I think he should be made to fight for his place instead of walking in to the side

  • 35.
  • At 09:49 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Twiz wrote:

The problem here is that somehow this is seen to justify his continued selection. One swallow does not make a summer, or winter. Same goes for Bell. These innings should not be seen as a reason to be selected for the next 18 months. The whole selection process needs to be far more cut throat, instead of the current closed shop.

  • 36.
  • At 09:58 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

I agree with Richard - the normally godlike Aggers could be a little more gracious!

Especially since Strauss is obviously still having to play himself back into form, I think this was a monumental effort - not the most fluent innings of all time, perhaps, but 173 (and counting) very valuable runs, nevertheless.

It is also a tremendous vindication of central contracts and keeping faith with players who everyone knows have the talent and who have done the business before at this level time and again.

If only we didn't always have to be on a campaign to drop someone, anyone... Remember the calls for KP to go after he dropped catches in the 05 Ashes? And for Bell to be left out after he didn't make runs that series? Now, of course, everone's got it in for the man who's statistically the most successful captain we've ever had, who clearly has one of the best cricketing brains around, who played some beautiful innings last year, and who still averages over 40. I think we need to learn to keep our heads more (like Vaughan does!).

Obviously, there comes a point where even a great player runs out of chances and someone new needs to be given an opportunity, as was the case with Harmison (although not, in my opinion, Hoggard, who still seems to me to have it in him - while Anderson would benefit from an extended run in county cricket to develop what is undeniably a prodigious natural talent and learn some Sidebottom-style consistency).

But we rush to these sorts of judgements far too quickly and far too harshly, even with people with truly excellent track records. More often than not, loyalty to a player won't yield complacency, but rich dividends - as it just has done with Strauss (and Bell). It's much more profitable than hero-worshipping somebody after an impressive debut, only to become disillsioned and getting rid of them a few matches later...

Another area where we could learn from the Australians?!

  • 37.
  • At 09:59 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Rob wrote:

Sorry but does getting some runs on a flat one against a club attack make him a Test opener?

Well done lads and at last we have some backbone!

  • 39.
  • At 10:04 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

It may not have been the best in terms of technique, but do you think the Aussies ALWAYS played great cricket? No, even they just had to grind it out sometimes. Strauss, whilst not free flowing, showed some great determination and grit to get his 173. I'm not buying this "its a weakened attack" or "its a flat pitch" you still got to go out there and perform. Strauss knew this was his last chance and sometimes he looked like a man under pressure but he stuck in there and fair play to him, its helped put England in a fantastic position.

The whole England team needs reviewing from who plays to what position they bat at but now is not the time. Get this test over with then start analysing but some people here need to remember you're not going to get instant results.

  • 40.
  • At 10:07 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • BRIDEE wrote:

So, 1 good knock out of 6 and 'HE'S BACK!!' Come on, to hear that NZ are a poor side & we only have to turn up to win. Has everyone forgotten that mantra as this tour approached? It has been a poor show from England, and if this performance is used as a trigger for 'No need for changes, we're back to our best.' Then any young cricketers expecting a call will be utterly demoralised and the old school tie will be back. Well played Strauss & Bell in this innings.

  • 41.
  • At 10:10 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Colin wrote:

Nick Tierney - I first came across that phrase years ago, used in discussions of boxing, and they would say A had the Indian sign over B, so it would have been American. It meant that A could usually beat B, even if B was theoretically better than him.

  • 42.
  • At 10:16 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

A great effort from Strauss. Under pressure, playing for his test future, he has now earned his test place next summer and rightly so.

Thats more like it from Bell. I said before when he goes out with positive intent he's a far better player. Controlled aggression thats what its all about. He's a class player.

I know itsa good wicket but I think our superiority will tell and we'll bowl New Zealand out but it will probably have to wait until half way through the 5th day.

  • 43.
  • At 10:21 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • ryan wrote:

That was an outstanding performance from Strauss. Under huge pressure, the press all over him and after a duck in the first innings, that has to be one of the best England innings of recent times. If he can score another 27 tomorrow morning, well, we will have seen something truly out of this world.

  • 44.
  • At 10:21 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Rob wrote:

Between his 100 at The Oval in 2005 and last night Strauss averaged 32 in 27 matches over 3 years.

There's no way that cheap runs yesterday make it right that he should stay in the side.

  • 45.
  • At 10:33 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Mary McNally wrote:

Bring back Mark Ramprakash, I say! I am sure that since he performed so magnificently on Strictly Come Dancing he has gained the necessary confidence to deliver on the big occasion. He will salsa to a century!

  • 46.
  • At 10:40 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Phil Oxford wrote:

Yes, well done Strauss, gritty, gutsy, get stuck in, all admirable qualities but at the top of a batting order it has to be technique that matters most. When the ticker-tape finally hits the ground on his eight hour batathon everone will realise what a poor side NZ are at the moment, with only two bowlers of real ability (Southee is not ready yet for 5 days), a good bowling attack would have not allowed Strauss to get to 30 never mind 160 odd. If he can move his feet he may be able to retain his place but there are others who deserve a go. What about the 2009 Ashes series? Personally i see Cook, Petersen and Bell in the top five with Strauss and Vaughan as long shots. I am sure SA will provide both these batters with a much tougher examination of there abilities.
As for the bowling, well done to the two Notts lads, superb display. well done to the selectors for keeping Harmison out, what a waste of a central contract. Hoggard should return to form and be able to play Test matches in England for two more years. C'mon now boys get the match won and get back here, the weather is beauitful!

  • 47.
  • At 10:43 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Steve wrote:

Are we incapable of offering praise without qualification?

Strauss and Bell played well, rode their luck on ocassions (esp Strauss) but should receive the plaudits their efforts deserved. And yet many just want to water-down their acheivements by highlighting pitch-conditions, weak attack, little pressure etc..

The majority of ardent and knowledegeable cricket followers know that our team are far from the finsihed article, but for goodness sake lets just allow Strauss and Bell to bask in our praise for a while - goodness knows they've drowned in our abuse often enough!

  • 48.
  • At 10:43 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Bemused wrote:

A prize to Simon (#36) for writing common-sense amongst the usual rash of moaning and clichés (yes, someone has actually had the originality to say that Strauss's innings is a case of "one swallow...") and whining that the New Zealanders are hopeless and that Strauss isn't good enough, etc.

You wanted the batsmen to show some fight and Andrew Strauss has shown it.

You are moaning that a century against this attack is worthless, but, apart from Strauss, only Bell of the top 6 has reached 35.

This constant "if we win it's because the opposition are pathetic, if we lose we are hopeless" gets irritating. Yes, New Zealand are rebuilding, but so too are England. We need a side that gets back into the habit of winning and, by the way, in the build up to the 2005 Ashes series, we struggled to beat Bangladesh in Bangladesh and then lost badly to Sri Lanka, leaving the fans speechless with opprobrium. Often one player or one series can turn a side's fortunes around, particularly when it helps them get into a winning habit. Look at India: having suffered poor results in Test cricket and a dreadful time last year in ODIs, they have had a couple of wins and suddenly the confidence is back in both forms of the game.

It's time for the fair-weather fans to get behind the side with something other than a sharpened knife.

  • 49.
  • At 10:44 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Steve Gooding wrote:

So we come towards the conclusion of this test series and England have finally achieved dominance over the Kiwi's; a state of affairs I would expect them to continue in the return leg come the summer.

As with every overseas tour these days, England's cricketers arrive at the first day of the first test hopelessly underprepared for first class cricket. In this case, one two day and one three day match, on the back of 20-20 and one day series. Is it any wonder that bowlers can not bowl the right lines and batsmen fall to rash shot selection?

Come the home series, two months of the county championship should ensure that all players have achieved the correct mindset for the test arena. Indeed, it is the Kiwi's who will struggle to prepare adequately.

However, should the IPL be able to include England players in future years, our test side will come straight from a prolonged 20-20 tournament. We already have the evidence of how very few players can switch from one form of the game to another.

Whoever our selectors retain faith in (or otherwise) over the coming months, they must ensure that those they favour are given the sufficient opportunity to develop and practice their undoubted skills in first class match situations in preparation for each and every test that they play in.

  • 50.
  • At 10:47 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Frank Clark wrote:

If Strauss is still showing basic technique problems, as assessed by the expert Aggers, then presumably he's not an automatic selection. England were always going to get enough runs on the board in this innings with perfect overhead conditions, Colly's brief aggressive knock would have been different had Strauss and Belel not delivered. I hope the attention to Strauss's excellent score does not deflect from the fabulous job our "Broad-Side" combination delivered the previous day. I would like to see Broad getting the new ball, as NZ's debut boy did. I agree, Shah will be unlucky not to get a look-in this summer, and on current form I would have to say Vaughan deserves his place the least - and if Freddie can get fit for bowling, Captain Colly could do both test and ODI jobs!

  • 51.
  • At 10:52 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Ronald Millar wrote:

All these backroom personnel, all that money spent on central contracts, players now not playing enough cricket to stay in form and with poor results when drafted occasionally into county games, players injured or out of form and remaining on payroll - with all this, are more matches being won than in the days when players played for counties and then went only one or two days later to play in a test match? It seems that the only undeniable improvement is in fielding athleticism (not catching) - which is a world-wide change.

  • 52.
  • At 10:54 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • markymark wrote:

To Nick Tierney (comment 4)
'To have the sign over' is a retraction of 'To have the Indian sign over'. As in to have a jinx over someone. Surprised a cricket fan doesn't know that as it was always a favourite of Richie Benaud from memory.

As for Strauss, well it was inevitable given patience that he would cash in and get a score. 15 years ago I am not sure Strauss would have been in this England team to make that score. We do seem to have learned to perservere through quality players dips in form, which is good to see.

  • 53.
  • At 10:59 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • tony ferney wrote:

Re (26), it's not a question of whingeing about Strauss' footwork. It's merely common sense to assume that if you don't move your feet to a ball outside the off-stump you will eventually be needlessly dismissed. In the end it comes down to mechanics - ie some batsmen are described as runmaking machines purely and simply because their whole body is in the right place at the right time.

  • 54.
  • At 10:59 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Theprophet wrote:

One swallow does not make a summer. So, Bell and Strauss both hit hundreds. Well done, thank you for that. So now we stick with them for the next series and wait (possibly) in vain for them to do it again. At what point do we accept that these players are not up to it and look to the future? So they have both scored runs against arguably the weakest attack in international cricket and definately the weakest attack NZ have put out for a long, long time. So what? This changes nothing. I get the inpression from reading this message board that a lot of people seem to now think we are world beaters again!! Seriously, take a step back!

  • 55.
  • At 11:00 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Ray F wrote:

Whilst at a personal level I'm very pleased for Strauss I think Aggers assessment of this innings is accurate and balanced. Strauss could have been out on a dozen occasions and his technique is still significantly flawed. We can only hope that this knock will restore the confidence necessary for him to tackle his demons an get his feet moving again.

I was amused by Mark Kidger's comments. He added some facts for those of us who may be "statistically challenged" and then went on to say "In fact of the last five series we have played in New Zealand, we have drawn one and lost 2!" Join the club Mark.

  • 56.
  • At 11:01 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Christian wrote:

Well done Mr Strauss,great to see you playing so well,as for Mr Bell glorious stroke play,a joy to watch.The campaign against Straussy has to stop,this was the man you Jonathan wanted to captain England.Too many people are educated in their judgements of players by the tabloids,i wonder if Belly would have been put under pressure if he had not got a century.Finish em off tonight boys

  • 57.
  • At 11:02 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Rob wrote:
"Sorry but does getting some runs on a flat one against a club attack make him a Test opener?"

Probably not, but it does make him head and shoulders better than Vaughan, who couldn't even do that. The selectors have had the courage to clear out the under-performing senior bowlers and so far it's working. Are they now going to have the courage to drop Vaughan then? Are we finally entering an era where we select a team based on current performance rather than past glories? One can but hope...

  • 58.
  • At 11:12 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • clive roberts wrote:

Well done Aggers now can you right off the Skipper, Master Cook and Co then we will see the Kiwis well and truly beaten at Lords Oh and don't forget to say Freddie cant make it back. Love the show as a Pom/Aussie now back in UK I feel as though I am there with you. Hoo Roo Clive

  • 59.
  • At 11:12 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Richard wrote:

Let's not forget that the media have Ian Bell tagged to make way for Flintoff when he regains fitness, no matter how many runs Bell makes!

  • 60.
  • At 11:33 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • nick h wrote:

I am truely thrilled for Strauss but Aggers is right his technique was still all over the place - but this actually made his knock all the more tremendous for showing guts and determination.

However as i am sure the selectors will pick for the 1st home test vs NZ - I ask what will they do if he fails then?? (i hope he doesnt though as i am a fan of his)

I also must talk about A-Tours because they seem to me to be pointless at the moment if we are not going to use them as an indicator of quality to then pick players for the test team - for example on the recent A-Tour to India Micheal Carberry averaged over 50 and Graham Onions took 18 wickets @ 17.

My side for the 1st home test vs NZ would be - Carberry, Cook, Strauss, Pieterson, Bell, Collingwood, Ambrose, Broad, Sidey, Onions, Monty.

  • 61.
  • At 11:33 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

All this talk of Strauss fighting for his place, what about Vaughan?

Surely even before this inning's he had scored less then Strauss so where is the doom and gloom about him?

  • 62.
  • At 11:36 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • David wrote:

It's alright saying let's be fair to Strauss, he's had a tough time over the last 2 years. But what about Owais Shah? How can people feel sorry for Strauss when he peforms poorly but Owais Shah gets denied every series.

I say give Strauss a chance of his double century and Ambrose a chance of his half century and then declare as soon as both of those batsmen either get out or reach their double century/half century.

  • 63.
  • At 11:48 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Simon wrote:

Sorry folks but unless he starts moving his feet Strauss will be exposed against a decent attack. Full of admiration for his guts but he'll need for than character against Steyn, Ntini and Morkel. NZ's seamers in this test are mostly well below Test standard. Bell again scores when the pressure is off. Vaughan is nearing last chance saloon. It is making runs when they can change games that counts.

  • 64.
  • At 11:50 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Anon wrote:

Ray, your point is?

  • 65.
  • At 11:53 AM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Jez Denton wrote:

Okay so Strauss looked a little dodgy when the second new ball was taken, but I think that was more to do with the quality of Chris Martin's bowling as to Strauss's technique. After all, ask yourself the question, did he get out? No! Did he go on and score another 70 odd runs? Yes. So all in all give the lad the credit he is due and say well done. Me personally I don't think he should have been left out of the team as he is a class act and he is now back where he belongs - now if Michael Vaughan can sort his form out we will have the best batting line up in the world sorted!

  • 66.
  • At 12:06 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Christian wrote:

I agree with Simon,Vaughan good test captain but getting no runs.He made the decision to oust Hoggy and Harmy for not producing the goods,who is going to make the decision on him?.

  • 67.
  • At 12:08 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • willc77 wrote:

I agree with the comment that England were under little pressure having taken a substantial first innings lead. However i am happy for Strauss and lets hope he can take confidence into the Summer series. Bell frustrates me because i think he is a rare talent and showed just what he can do. He regularly gets half centuries but fails to convert like so many. More worrying is the form of Vaughn i think the up and coming series especially against SA will determine vaughn's future.

  • 68.
  • At 12:09 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Greg T. wrote:

Congratulations to Strauss and Bell. Both timely knocks in deed. Other people have suggeasted that the the English batsman have succeeded again only when under no pressure whatsoever in terms of the game situation and on a very flat pitch agains a moderate attack. This is a little harsh! Strauss and Bell must have been under immense pressure personaly as they were fighting for their place in the team.

  • 69.
  • At 12:13 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Nick wrote:

England's cricketers seem determined to give the selectors a headache. Just when dropping someone seems a straightforward decision he goes out and does superbly. On that basis I expect Anderson to go out and clean up the NZ batsmen decisively!

Personally I think Mark Ramprakash deserves one last outing (based on his form, not sentimental feelings). But as I say, no easy decision now about who to drop.

  • 70.
  • At 12:19 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • John Wood wrote:

I hope that the current euphoria over England's improved batting does not "hide" the problems we still have with Monty! A lovely person but his batting is a joke, his fielding is a joke so unless he starts to vary his bowling, particularly his flight, and starts bowling teams out, he does not warrant a place in the team.

  • 71.
  • At 12:28 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

Is it time to send a message to all of the England players about performances? Is it Collingwoods time to take the arm band, and Vaughn time to get a lot of county practice? The evidence is all there.

  • 72.
  • At 12:33 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

And replace Monty with who John Wood? Monty maybe young but he's still 1 of the best spinners we have.

  • 73.
  • At 12:39 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • STEVE HARPER wrote:

Mr Agnew my wife complained bitterly that i watched the cricket here in madeira all night. Yes he needed a win and has proven that he has the mental capacity to do so, i was opposed to giving Flintoff the captaincy in OZ and felt he was unlucky not to have been captain.
Please give the man total credit his score is in the book, you have forgotten the attrocious dismissals in oz, 150 plus with not giving a chance, thank god you are not a selector.
i believe the selectors are right in their faith in a truly remarkable player, and now with the hope of Flintoff on the way back , broad as a great find england will give South Africa a run for their money and dare i say it the Ozzies too. Lets hope he makes the 200 club

  • 74.
  • At 12:44 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Mungry wrote:

What is the matter with you lot? England have a good day and all you can do is moan, moan, moan. It's pathetic. It's runs that count, not style, and Strauss has 173 of them in this innings. If Michael Owen scores a scruffy goal should he be dropped next time because it didn't have the style of, say, a Ronaldo goal? Get a grip people. Learn to enjoy it when England have a good day!

  • 75.
  • At 12:59 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Dave Winstanley wrote:

We seem to have two typically English attitudes on show here today: one is the spiteful vitriol aimed at our out-of-form batsmen: the other manic optimism ('thumping South Africa' - a team that have recently anihilated a stronger New Zealand team than the one we have had so much problems with) - surely we've as good as won the next Ashes series now (!)
We know the batsmen have proved themselves against quality opposition before, so alot of the comments here are not merited. What is of concern is why the batsmen seem constantly out of sorts mentally, and I can't help but feel that this ridiculous 'holistic' micro-coaching that they have in the England set-up nowadays has alot to answer for (along, of course with inadequate warm-up provision in touring itineraries).
Maybe the answer is to let the players work out their problems for themselves rather than have this constant plethora of coaches and 'experts' do their thinking for them.

  • 76.
  • At 01:01 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Thomas Vanner wrote:

Nice thoughtful column as always, Aggers - I didn't get home till 2am last night and when I put radio on to hear that Strauss had got a ton, I was super pleased for him! Guess it shows that despite some technical shortcomings (and who hasn't got those), mentally he was able to battle through - I see Strauss as decent captaincy material for the future as he seems to have a bit of a ruthless streak about him occassionally and perhaps as one of the previous contributors stated, this will be the start of a purple patch and maybe he'll be sitting on 15 Test hundreds come the end of the summer. Looking forward to Fleming's last Test innings too - heard the TMS interview the other night with him, he comes across as a smashing chap and much that I like Vettori, it's a shame that NZ dipenses with his captaincy nous so quickly after he sacked off ODI captaincy. Good luck, Flem, hope you get a large ton ala Astle in 2002 but I guess England will still win!

  • 77.
  • At 01:16 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • DaveP wrote:

Quite, Mungry. But it's the British disease of always finding something to criticise, which is, I suspect, why in the sporting world, the British have less success than they should. After all, 'damned if they do, damned if they don't'.

When England won the Ashes in 2005, straight away, focus was turned onto not so much how well England played but, 'Yeah, but we can't really call ourselves a world class test side unless we beat them in their own back yard.' and 'Well, they were an old side, past their best.' And of course, when England duly obliged by not winning the return series, the moaners and doubters could feel very good about themselves again. Us British are never more comfortable than when accepting mediocrity. God knows, there's plenty of mediocrity marauding as sports journalism on this website and in the media in general.

  • 78.
  • At 01:31 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Roger Coasby wrote:

On a good pitch against a fairly moderate bowling squad Strauss performed well.

I remain unconvinced that he will get big scores against the likes of Australia, India and Sri Lanka. They will all be analysing his weak points and are sure to try and exploit them to their advantage.

  • 79.
  • At 01:50 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Paul H wrote:

Great to see both Strauss and Bell pick up long awaited centuries, I don't think Strauss had another chance lined up for him and he really did need to bat his way out of trouble. Bell has been hit and miss for England, so to get 110 will surely help his confidence and hopefully put him on the right track.

With NZ needing to break records if they were to defeat England I think its a good chance for Monty to try new things and for Broad to get even better, and Sidebottom to carry on his sensational form and to show he is Englands number 1 star!

  • 80.
  • At 02:21 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • tinker wrote:

You have to wonder if it's just papering over cracks.

When the pressure is on against the top sides will the likes of strauss and bell come to the party then?

England have played badly enough to lose this series 3-0 but they have come up against a NZ side which isn't much more than a glorified county team.

  • 81.
  • At 02:21 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Andrew wrote:

Interesting article. No arguments that despite Strauss scoring heavily there were still some slight underlying problems with his footwork. That being said, after Strauss' recent form would anyone realistically have expected him to stroll out and middle every ball in an 8 hour innings? Great tenacity and concentration to stay there, fantastic to see him back in the runs again. Despite his lean spell, I believe he is still one of England's best 6 batters.

Despite the occasional lose shot, it was interesting to see how many scoring shots Strauss played closer to his body, waiting for the ball, and hitting 'in the V'. His technique may not yet be perfect, but it was certainly a vast improvement from some of his earlier innings in the tour. Well played Andrew Strauss.

I look forward to the day that the English media are prepared to praise good England performances, without finding fault in even the best displays. If the batters score runs then 'so they should, because the pitch is a belter'. However if the bowlers get wickets, 'so they should, because the New Zealand batting is weak.' It seems that there is nothing anyone in the England cricket team can do without an undertone of discontent.

  • 82.
  • At 02:58 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Terry Matter wrote:

As I live in the U.S., the BBC blog is my lifeline. To all the nay-sayers: Take one hundred off KP, Strauss and Bell's innings and see where England would be. On a 'flat pitch', where anyone can score a ton, no one else has, including some very good batsmen from NZ. Accept it folks, without those 3 scores England would be suckin' wind.

  • 83.
  • At 03:16 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • virenMK wrote:

Congratulations Strauss and Bell!

A double from Strauss will do nicely
for cricket.

The greatest game ever invented in this god forsaken planet of ours!

  • 84.
  • At 03:20 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Nicky Boje wrote:

Having fun sitting back and watching the usual Knee-jerkers coming out in force. Finally one good score in a less than perfect innings in 2 years and Strauss has "silenced the critics" and is "World Class" again. Hmmm I need to see more before I start praying to the Church of Strauss Im afraid.

Well done to him on though a gritty knock, no doubt he has booked himself in for the English summer and both winter tours as a result of this one knock!

  • 85.
  • At 03:21 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Graham wrote:

Thing is Andrew (81) everyone thinks they can do better when a sportsman doesnt perform.

The pitch is supposedly flat and a batsmans paradise yet NZ scored less than we did in the first innings. So its a case of "NZ are a weak team" as opposed to "England caused problems" You get some people thinking "I could bowl NZ out with that line up" - well off you go and try and we can all laugh and ridicule you when you fail.

I agree its pathetic. Lets give credit to Strauss for his 173 (n.o), lets give credit to Sidebottom for his 7 wickets. Lets actually show England that, whilst improvements are needed and changes are probably required, we are still supporting them and willing them on.

But its easier to critisize (sp?) than to praise and nothing is ever good enough for some people.

  • 86.
  • At 03:26 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

Sorry Terry but thats a rediculous comment. What if the world was square, what if.............

A few of you on here have questioned whether Bell can do it when it matters, or against good oppostion. They are not the issues with Bell. Its a lack of concentration when hes in. His conversion ratio of 50's to hundreds is something he has to improve. If it does he will be up there with the best.

  • 87.
  • At 03:44 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Allan wrote:

Sometimes batsmen need their luck and Strauss finally got some.

As for Ian Bell, his usual class personified. I have always said he is Englands most classy batsman. I find it hard to believe that people are still calling for him to make way.

For me there are four batsmen from this six who deserve to keep their spots ,albeit with a slight switching of order. I would keep Cook opening, then KP at four, move Colly up to five and Bell down to 6, he is more comfortable there. That leaves 2 and 3. Strauss seems to have delayed his execution at least until the home series. I would like to see Rob Key open with Cook with, I guess anyone from Strauss, Vaughan, Carberry or Shah at 3.
I also agree with #60, its time Graham Onions got a shout. My bowling line-up would be either:
Broad, Onions, Sidey, Monty
Flintoff, Broad, Sidey, Monty.

As for the next Ashes, we could have a new spinner who can bat a bit (Rashid).

  • 88.
  • At 03:47 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • paul harrison wrote:

never understood Ian bells critics , always thought he was classy and reliable. pleased for Strauss but 1 swallow doesn't make a summer, he needs more of the same from now on.
Colly will be fine cause we need that graft late on, let's hope Ambrose is here to stay !!!!!
just Vaughan to find a bit of nick then !!!
Anderson suffers from harmisonitus !
just thank the lord side bottom is having such a wonderful re entry into test cricket , hail , hail,

come on england !!!!!

  • 89.
  • At 03:48 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Boardman wrote:

GREAT to see Strauss (and Bell) in the runs but the hard fact is that the technical faults will be a problem if not corrected.

However there is now a great oppotunity for him to go back to his county and sort it out. And hopefully score a load of runs and prove that he genuinely warrants a place in the home series - or not.

It's about consistency and bad technique comes off some days and lots of other days it doesn't.
Prior's keeping was found wanting at top level because his technique was hugely flawed - too much time off his feet, gloves not together, snatching...... - and I think Anderson's bowling action causes his huge ups and downs.

As for Vaughn? Well he needs to go back to Yorkshire and play as much cricket as possible and get himself sorted and if he doesn't he really should not be leading England into the next test series.

  • 90.
  • At 03:58 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • steve wrote:

I have to hand it to Andrew Strauss. After an at best mediocre series I wrote him off as sadly finished. He may never scale the heights of early test career but his mental strength displayed in this second innings could teach others in the line up how much of success is played between the ears. His innings was 'less attractive' than Bell but more of a match winning one. Yes the pitch has flattened out so much that combined with a sub standard test bowling atack it gave him every opportunity but he walked the walk so good luck to him.
Those of you asking for fresh faces in this batting line up are still right to do so as it is neccessary and i believe we need two at least to improve.
Key, lovely fella that he is, is nowhere near an international athlete and footwork is leaden.
Ramprakash definately does have the footwork and has completed a terrific Indian Summer of a great county career but this is another level.
Carberry is an excellent athlete and fielder but not more importantly a good enough batsmen.
Test cricket has moved on hugely in recent years and will change at an even greater rate up to the next ashes and beyond.
Big matchwinners not just performers will make the difference. Two young unstereotypical Test players who if developed properly have that neccessary XFactor are maybe surprisingly, Ravi Bopara and Luke Wright.

  • 91.
  • At 04:00 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

I don't really agree with the suggestion of some folks that Aggers is grudging in his praise of AS. His first sentence is:

This was a truly staggering performance by Andrew Strauss, and an innings which lends us great insight into his character

The comments about technique, etc., are also spot-on, as surely even the most die-hard Strauss supporters must acknowledge. What we all want is for his confidence to return and the footwork with it.

I remember when Gooch was out to a jaffer at the start of his career and the comment was, in effect, "He was good enough to get an edge to it". Those play-and-miss strokes of AS were all edges that didn't happen. He's entitled to his share of luck (especially after some dismissals in the recent past) but needs to minimize his need for it in order to consistently score big like we know he can.

Put the character he showed in this innings together with the good technique of old and he'll be back at the top.

  • 92.
  • At 04:07 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Jibzi wrote:

Hi there, I just want to congratulate both Strauss and Bell on their centuries. At the end of the day, you can only face whats in front of you and if the pitch was ideal for batting, why have only three batsman made centuries?

With Strauss, I think his form dropped after the Pakistan series in 06, when they decided to give the captaincy to Flintoff. When I saw him today, he looked more patient, made better judgments and played shots which he knows he is capable of, especially square of and down the wicket.

It's all well saying he has technical flaws but doesn't everyone. My team, Pakistan, are blessed with loads of technical ability and flair, but doesnt hide the fact that only M.Yousuf and Younis Khan are our real class batsmen and the rest are worse than England's top seven. Like I said, technique is important, but so is discipline, shot selection, determination and other things like that (good coaching/backroom staff also helps).

If Vaughan doesnt continue as captain, my candidates as replacement will be between Strauss, KP or Cook. If people think Colly is a good captain, why are England so low in the ODI rankings?

Lastly, I think when Flintoff comes back in the side, a batsman has to give way, and that would be in my view, between Colly, Bell or Vaughan. The reason is that, and many experts have said, the bowlers win test matches (batsmen win ODIs). So it has to be four seamers and a spinner. The first 3 seamers should be Flintoff, Sidebottom and Broad with Monty as spinner. In my view, the fourth seamer has to be able to provide 90mph deliveries with bounce and venom (can Harmison return to form and be the man?). If people are worried about depth of batting, both Flintoff and Broad (has decent ability) can add to the batting, although Freddie does need to, as Richie Benaud said, 'be there till the end of the innings'.

  • 93.
  • At 04:08 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Yoseph Citron wrote:

Ah straussy u finally made a score! In a few years time ill tell my kids about this day, lest they forget. Happy Strauss day!

  • 94.
  • At 04:29 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • santonu wrote:

If Strauss bats tommrow ,he will bat for all the first four days.May be raecord for english batsman.India's Ravi Shastri had a record to bat all the 5 days in a test match

  • 95.
  • At 04:45 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Daniel Fenton wrote:

I think people need to be logical here. Aggers - The performance from Strauss showed true mental toughness. It was wasn't as fluent as Bell but credit where credits due. Secondly, it's true that this New Zealand team arent the most talented but they have 2 very good opening bowlers in the highly talented debutant Southee and the consistent Martin. Vettori is one of the best spinners in the world so will people stop slating the NZ bowling. Its their batting thats got no depth or quality

The South Africans will be a sterner test in the summer but I still back our boys to win.

Sid and Broady are awesome and when will we realise that Anderson is too expensive and sprays it around too much. Hoggy over Jimmy any day of the week

  • 96.
  • At 05:05 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • craigo wrote:

One decent knock doesnt change a thing...Strauss isnt a test batsman. Lets just see how consistent he will be after this innings. Before everyone starts jumping up and down just look at his record and look at his consistency...its POOR.

  • 97.
  • At 05:06 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Jackie wrote:

What was so important about the Strauss-Bell centurions' innings was the strength of their partnership. Strauss appeared calm and didn't feel under pressure to make runs quickly. This is because Bell was going at a good lick. They complemented each other perfectly. Strauss must be easier to bat with than Pietersen (risky singles) and without Bell's run rate we wouldn't have been up to 501 by the end of the day never mind Bell's 110 runs he scored.
19 boundaries!! It was a fabulous knock and unforgettable for those who saw it. Isn't this what Test cricket is about as well?
Perfect stroke play. It just isn't the same as football. Cricket really is a beautiful game and Bell reminds us of David Gower.
Strauss answered his critics in the best possible way. Both players were under pressure as the media has never stopped complaining about them.
Strauss out of form; Bell not making enough 100s.
If Vaughan is the captain I think he is he'll declare overnight.

  • 98.
  • At 05:24 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • chris wrote:

Post number 9 ;

I think you are being a bit harsh on Sidebottom who has bowled well in every series he has played in so far and I think will take many better wickets. The kiwi attack with martin mills oram vettori and patel is, while not fantastic, a decent attack but, decimated by injuries for this 3rd test they are indeed very ordinary.

It has been muted that due to the endless cycle of cricket matches and the mounting injuries, that tours are going to become more and more about a squad of 16 players, maybe more, playing in series to cope with injuries and give players breaks. its already happening albeit unofficially, and yes, it will dilute the standard of international test cricket. i think the heads of the national boards have already gone way too far in chase of the big bucks, test cricket will never be what it was.

re the west indies sri lanka series, you are spot on, it is absolutely ghastly. there are going to be 3 different test series going on at the same time on sky sports this week...madness.

sport is no longer sport, it is a product used to make money for people. this is no more obvious than with the SPOTY award, the director makes no apologies of the fact that its all about entertaining as big an audience as possible, get the highest ratings, end of. its no longer about the sport, we have to realise that.

anarchy is the only solution..!

  • 99.
  • At 05:25 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • paulhebbard wrote:

Congratulations Bellie and Straus, as Straus stepped out onto the wicket after the demise of Vaughn there was a certain inevitablility, i agree with JA that he stuttered his way past half century but now the ton monkey is off his back i think he will become the shot player of old...Big up for Bell as well for his timely exceleration to the innings, nobody should underetimate this guy as he is going to be round a while and will mature into a solid player the team can relie on...bring on the Boks!!!!

  • 100.
  • At 05:56 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Andy wrote:

Can it be mere coincidence that Strauss's problems began directly after his shabby treatment by England in the wake of his leading the side to a series win over Pakistan and then finding himself demoted for the Ashes tour for no good reason other than to satisfy Flintoff's ego?

And again is it coincidence that much of the cricket media have had their teeth snapping at Strauss ever since.

Cynic? Moi? Surely not.

Credit where credit is due. Yes technical failings exist but you can`t say 173 not out is a lucky score, can you?

  • 102.
  • At 06:05 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • bill edmunds wrote:

Its sad that some contributors seem to be convinced that if we lose to a strong Australian Team we are useless but if we beat a weak New Zealand Team we are still rubbish. You can only play against the opposition that is provided and any success must be applauded especially when we think back to Zimbabwe when we murdered them but still only managed to draw. Unfortunately the shadow of the Indian T20 competitions is going to distort Test results for the next few years.

  • 103.
  • At 06:25 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Tom Collinson wrote:

A few points of note

1. The media and fans harp on about the Ashes 2005 more than the team do, yet they're always criticised for 'resting on their laurels' and other nonesense.

2. You don't change a winning team. Who are you going to drop? No batsman has performed in every innings so why pick out one or two? especially two who have made centuries+

3. You cannot drop Vaughan he is the captain, move him down the order to 3 or 4.

Why is it that if a player doesn't make 100 regularly he's considered a failure? How many players around the world make 100 consistently?

Back off, stop calling for people to be dropped and support the team. There is no shame in enjoying a win regardless of how it comes about.

  • 104.
  • At 06:45 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Olly Horne wrote:

Strauss was on 97 when he was repeatedly beaten outside off stump by Martin. I think this was nerves, and totally understandable! Good on him and Belly I say.

Here's hoping the NZ'ers don't find the going as easy in their second innings, though I wouldn't begrudge Fleming a large ton in a losing cause. As a previous poster mentioned, he seems a very nice, decent & genuine guy.

  • 105.
  • At 06:58 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

For all those that say Bell isn't mentally tough enough, he hasn't had a bad winter.

Over the two winter series:

Bell - 511 runs, average 46 (1 hundred and 4 50's)
Cook 470 at 39 (1 and 3)
Colly 409 at 37 (]0] and 4)
KP 385 at 35 (1 and none)
MPV 338 at 28 (!!!) (0 and 3).

  • 106.
  • At 07:04 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • apek wrote:

I agree with you that Bell should not be underestimated, but (and this is more a rebuke to the many posters who have suggested that he should be dropped) imho bell is already a solid player the team can rely on. The fact is that even before this sublime hundred he had passed 50 in 6 out of his last 13 innings and 25 times in 36 tests. I've looked up a few of the established top-class players of this era (Ponting, Sanga, Hayden, Jayawardene etc etc etc) and not one of them had that rate of scoring 50 at the same stage. Of course, several (but, significantly, not by any means all) of them had more, and larger, hundreds at this stage, but to suggest,as plenty of people have, that Bell should be dropped is, to my mind, absurd. I'm as frustrated as anyone by his comparatively low conversion rate (but again, look at players like Jayawardene Sangakkara, Kallis etc after 36 tests) and the fact that he has yet to play the kind of 'match-winning' innings that I know he is capable of, but I am convinced he will come good in a big way before too long.

  • 107.
  • At 07:21 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Stu wrote:

just watched the highlights earlier. absolute class from bell, he really proved what a assest he is to england these days. also, i'm a massive fan of vaughan, but how long can we keep carrying him when he isn't scoring big runs? it's a bit like the scenario we had at the world cup. is there a place in the side for a specialist captain?

"Can it be mere coincidence that Strauss's problems began directly after his shabby treatment by England in the wake of his leading the side to a series win over Pakistan and then finding himself demoted for the Ashes tour for no good reason other than to satisfy Flintoff's ego?". Wrote Andy.

Id suggest that as his averages in the 5 series before he captained against Pakistan were 38, 39, 11, 39 and 31 that his problems began well before that.....

  • 109.
  • At 07:35 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Andy M wrote:

We all knew that Strauss had great character and that he was under a certain amount of pressure to perform in the second innings after a very poor period of form with the bat. A little concerning to hear his footwork hasn't been to good, but as you say Jonathan we hope that this big hundred or double as it may yet be builds up his confidence so his footwork will not then be an issue.

It's a tough call whether England should declare overnight or try and get just a few more runs. As the pitch is evidently playing good with England being able to make 416 for 5 then perhaps England should declare overnight and give themselves maximum time to bowl New Zealand out. With Stephen Fleming in his last test innings he could be an awkward customer don't you think.

I think Monty Panesar should vary his pace more if he's to get wickets in cricket matches. He's to one paced and to often bowls the same pace and thus batsman get easily used to what's coming to them.

  • 110.
  • At 07:44 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Michael Speight wrote:

Ian Bell is a class apart from the rest of the England batting line up. Kevin Pietersen excluded (but they are very different players). Anyone who has ever suggested Bell be dropped clearly knows nothing about Test Cricket.

  • 111.
  • At 07:47 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Kim wrote:

Re these match winning innings Bell doesnt play...when did any of the rest of the top 6 play one?

  • 112.
  • At 08:04 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Rick Burton wrote:

Well done Andrew Strauss and let's hope he can go on to make a double ton in the morning session. It will be a huge confidence booster for him and he should now start to relax a bit now he remembers how to score runs and stay at the crease.

I don't think it's a coincidence that Strauss has been struggling for form since his partner in crime - Tresco - realised his illness and has been unavailable for England. They were the perfect partnership, one of the best opening pairs in English Test history and perhaps this may have been part of the problem with his form in that he needed time to adjust to a new opening partner and I feel the selectors lost faith too soon.

Hopefully now he can progress and find the form that once made him a batsman that other teams feared. I think its only a matter of time before he is opening the innings once again. The selectors just need to keep the faith and draw on his experience.

  • 113.
  • At 08:32 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • bobby wrote:

um, lets not get over exited, but i could probably make a decent score on that pitch against that attack...and plus, does it really take a player to be in last chance saloon to score a big 'un? still a good knock though, fair play to him.

  • 114.
  • At 08:52 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Rodney Jackson wrote:

Well done, England, but it's only NZ, for goodness' sake. Any advance against the SA will have to be seen against the hamstrung selection (like apartheid days sometimes) that is SA sport these days, not that it was enough to disrupt the Springbok rugby team last year, never played at full potential because they didn't have to!

  • 115.
  • At 09:14 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Ted Goodhew wrote:

There has been a lot of talk about the lack of centuries scored by Bell - and now he has scored one. The problem is that no-one seems to have realised that he is potentially our best batsman - the best in a generation indeed. Batting at 3,6, 5 or whatever,is wrong. He needs a settled position and that is 3. He is the Peter May of the side. Put trust in him and he will deliver.

Obviously things can't change immediately because of Strauss' innings. But he should have been there already. The person whose place should be on the line is Vaughan.

  • 116.
  • At 09:32 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Ted Goodhew wrote:

There has been a lot of talk about the lack of centuries scored by Bell - and now he has scored one. The problem is that no-one seems to have realised that he is potentially our best batsman - the best in a generation indeed. Batting at 3,6, 5 or whatever,is wrong. He needs a settled position and that is 3. He is the Peter May of the side. Put trust in him and he will deliver.

Obviously things can't change immediately because of Strauss' innings. But he should have been there already. The person whose place should be on the line is Vaughan.

  • 117.
  • At 09:37 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • phil carlin wrote:

aggers, strauss has struggled of late but how can you say last chance saloon he is a quality batsmen with a cracking test average every sportsman goes through a dip in form would you say the same about kp of late who has also struggled apart from his ton in first dig did you ever go through a dip form in your career come on lets get behind the boys

  • 118.
  • At 09:49 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Biffy wrote:

Yes Strauss did well but can the team really afford to keep him just so he can get a 100 every 7 or 8 tests? No

It's time to be brave and get Shah or a new batsman in

He could yet prove me wrong in the summer however

  • 119.
  • At 09:57 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Joe Baker wrote:

I think that Kevin Pietersen, Alistair Cook and Ian Bell are englands best batsmen. Alistair Cook is up an coming and is for now as well as the future, he has the most centuries for his age - he is 23 years old and has scored quite a few runs already. Ian Bell always seems to play exquisite shots and great stroke play but gets out by findng the fielders to much. KP also plays differently by going gung ho most of the time from the start but can accumulate runs quickly and build big scores when in form quite easily and quickly. Michael Vaughan should be dropped - OK his record as captain is undebateable but Collingwood could be an able captain for tests as well as ODIs. He has not got the runs recently, OK he has been out for a while with knee problems but he needs match practice and he hasn't got it. he needs to go back to Yorkshire and play matches before he should be considered for the upcoming home series against a New Zealand side in transition and missing a few players and a potent South Africa side where they will pose different challenges to those they faced in and by Sri-Lanka and NZ. KP could also be captain as he has that charisma and that in your face attitude about him. Anyone in the current team could be captain though, Alistair cook has been earmarked as a future England Captain without a doubt, Ian Bell has captained the england youth sides and Andrew Strauss has a good record as captain as well so there are a number of candidates for the position, either short term or long term.
Regarding the wicket keeper, I think that they should stick with Tim Ambrose as he has gone quite well and has caught the majority of his catches and scored runs but players get criticised at the start of their careers for dropping catches or not scoring many runs, but this is because they are inexperienced and learning.
It would be interesting to see whether Alec Stewart or even the great Adam Gilchrist caught all atempted catches when his career started or how many runs he scored at the start of his wicket keeping career, but to be honest he was in the side for years and established senior member of the team so he got better and one of the most consistent performers with both gloves and the bat. the current international sides keep the same wicket keeper in the team - Brendon McCullum(NZ), Boucher (South Africa), MS Dhoni (India) Gilchrist (Aus), Kamran Akmal (Pakistan) and Kumar Sangakara/Jawardena (Sri-Lanka) so why can't England? instead of playing prior, read, jones, mustard they should just pick one and stick with him.

  • 120.
  • At 10:17 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

'This was a truly STAGGERING performance by Andrew Strauss' and 'to bat eight hours for his highest ever Test score (173no) was REMARKABLE'.

How on earth is Aggers not showing grace here?! He is massively complementing him, then doing his job, namely cricket commentary and comment by commenting on the fact he achieved this despite continuing poor technique.

A very poor average over 3 years shows his technique has let him down for a long time now, especially as the modern game means bowlers know exactly how to exploit them. He is talented and sometimes exceptional, but if those flaws aren't fixed he will continue to fail against the best bowling attacks on difficult wickets.

Agree with some posters about Ramps - he should have been brought back 2 to 4 years back, but everyone complained at the time this would be 'backwards thinking' as he is so old. But he's proved how incredibly fit he is and destroys bowling attacks week in week out. Had he come back and performed for England we would have had 4-6 years out of him. How is that backwards?

As for Vaughn, an average of 40 over 2 years is adequate and 6 innings in one series is not grounds for removing someone - Strauss 36.58 (although that includes this last score so looks a little more flattering and isn't great), Bell 45.38 (hardly grounds for even considering leaving him out), and Collingwood 43.2.

Of those it's clearly Strauss who is the most vulnerable, regardless of this performance. He was left out for good reason, shouldn't have been given this opportunity ahead of Shah, and has now belted a few against naff bowling on a featherbed. So now he stays in. I truly hope he finds some form or otherwise England suffers. After Strauss it should be Collingwood to go. An admirable man, a real battler, but generally very poor on lively wickets. Mind you flat tracks pick him every time.

  • 121.
  • At 10:26 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Christian wrote:

Very interesting comments from Joe,really well written and excellent points.I myself as an England supporter would love to see Vaughan excel with the bat,but agree Colly would make an excellent captain.For sentimental reasons i will always admire Vaughan for the way he took over the Hussain regime and took it forward.As Nasser took us forward he began to look tired in the role and the change/handover worked well.I look at this team and i believe the players now see Colly as their leader and captain.I will always support and aplaud Vaughany for his his time as captain,but look for the future, install Colly and allow others such as Pietersen,Bell to take up the vice captain role and make the progression natural.Enjoy everybody,grab yourself a scotch and enjoy our team playing great cricket.

  • 122.
  • At 10:44 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • Robin Stacey wrote:

Hmmm.... Seems rather harsh to me, complaining about Strauss' century. It came probably more because of need than want, or maybe pure desparation. It was an important anchor for the other players to build on, especially Bell and Ambrose.
I think we should give him another chance next test, and if he makes 50, keep him temporarily.

  • 123.
  • At 11:20 PM on 24 Mar 2008,
  • whoopding666 wrote:

i still don't think it was correct that strauss was picked. what did he do to warrant selection for the tour beforehand? surely shah was the one to play and he would've fought for his wicket unlike the last number of occasions when strauss went to bat.

  • 124.
  • At 12:02 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Richard wrote:

Christchurch 2002. England set NZ target of 550ish to get. Nathan Astle proceeded to score 222 pretty much in an afternoon (about 160 balls, I think), thereby scaring the life out of England.

There are a number of NZ players capable of doing something approaching this even within this team (How, Sinclair, Taylor, Fleming Vettori and, need I say it, McCullum). Players who have failed to perform most of the series and are keen to be picked for the upcoming tour of England...and Fleming has other reasons, of course.

One thing that appears not to have registered with most people here is that even a rather sorry England team have managed to accrue a large total on this still extremely benign pitch that seems less and less of a problem as the game proceeds. Perhaps a few chickens are being counted slightly too early.

It may be a challenge of immense proportions, but if they are still there at stumps on the 4th day, I'd be worried...

  • 125.
  • At 12:06 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • James wrote:

I wanted to say well done Andrew Strauss, quite simply Agnew's story was typical of how we destroy our sportsmen and I am thoroughly sick of it!

  • 126.
  • At 01:14 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Samuel Richards wrote:

I certainly believe that Andrew Strauss should keep his test place and I also believe that he should open with Cook.

I think that Vaughan on the other hand, has past it. As a captain and as a batsmen. I think that it is time that Collingwood took over that post and become the captain of england in all forms of cricket.

He is a class act and he leads from the front with his batting and his fielding

Vaughan will just take england in the wrong direction ahead of the Ashes in 2009.

  • 127.
  • At 03:43 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • the monsta wrote:

Form is temporary, class is permanent

Andrew Strauss,
the wristy,
left hander,
his start immense,
of a hundred and twelve,
the second innings,
was of similar fashion,
with a score of,
a century,
seemed certain,
a terrible blunder,
from Nasser Hussain,
a huge misunderstanding,
he was much to blame,
despite this setback,
the centuries came swift,
as England formed,
a deadly combination,
the runs were big,
and often decisive,
he scored sweet hundreds,
it was simply fantastic,
after the Ashes,
Trescothick was to retreat,
a heart broken Strauss,
was completely distraught,
his form dipped,
the centuries stopped,
with little footwork,
the ducks piled up,
his confidence wavered,
as he faced the drop,
the ultimatum came,
in the tour of New Zealand,
an abysmal start,
with an unspeakable average,
the tide was to change,
in his final knock,
taking centre stage,
with a innings,
of great importance,
he scored with control,
and total composure,
a well earned century,
that was to be,
his biggest,
it was an impressive figure,
that was also unbeaten,
a long time coming,
it left New Zealand reeling,
with plenty of woe,
and much to ponder.

  • 128.
  • At 07:40 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • mike cheyne wrote:

Hey, Aggers, as soon as you slag someone off they seem to produce the goods! Strauss yesterday with his best ever score and today Monty producing outstanding figures. Maybe you should have a go at the skipper!

  • 129.
  • At 10:29 AM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • adrian wrote:

hey aggers

i was really pleased to see strauss get that big must have been a horrible experience knowing that you have the talent to score centuries and then go through a patch when you cant even buy a run. i was also exceedngly impressed by stuart broads attitude. he bowled alot of overs and he really showed signs of maturity and understanding. however i think that to improve as a bowler and to be compared with the likes of glen mcgrath then he has to bowl slightly fuller and toward the outside of off stump.

once again ian bell was outstanding and i think that he is easily englands best batsman. he has every shot in the book and he always plays the correct shot. one improvement for england on a whole is to get our batsmen to improve on there running and also to be more consistent when bowling to a new batsman. the only bowler i remember bowling consistantly through the whole game was ryan sidebotton and look how many wickets he got.

finally i wish england with all the luck they deserve and i hope that strauss gets back into form as we need a good player like himself to be at his best for when we play the south africans!!

  • 130.
  • At 12:04 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • graham wrote:

Well Well, is it any wonder that we (England) can't reach the heights of Australia. Look at the previous 120 odd comments and 80% of them are negative about a man who has scored 177 runs. How can a country that can produce so many negative thinking whingers, who can fail so spectacularly to see any good in such a performance, ever ever hope to have the mental strength to match up to the Aussies. My god I hope that my form is as 'poor' as Strauss' during this coming season!!

If NZ are such a poor bowling attack, and the pitch is flat then why didn't every top six batsman score 100? Only two did (2nd Inns) so if Strauss is rubbish what does that make the rest?

He did what was asked - dropped for Sri Lanka so he could play domestic cricket and get his head and form right (he scored at least 1 100 in NZ domestic and one in an England warm up), before coming back into the test side. If 177 does not answer that then what does.

For those who question his right to play the first test series of the summer, do you not think that having now got some runs he should have the chance to prove that this is the start of a better run.

  • 131.
  • At 02:07 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • baldev wrote:

This is a great performance but still not world betters. NZ with all respect are not the strongest team. Why can England not preform on the big stage and against the big teams. Considering all the hype etc the team gets, they always fall short so even though this victory will be good, i am yer to be convinced. Sorry to be negative but this is truth about the team which has some good individuals but as a team have no sting

  • 132.
  • At 03:56 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • matthew wrote:

im pleased strauss and bell got their tons. everyone keeps complaining about bell never scores a run when needed and strauss and collingwood have limited techniques but why do we not comment about vaughan. MV has not scored many runs for a while now and his average keeps decreasing by the innings. i must admit its very easy just to drop somebody and complain and i also think the solutions are not just to drop players but MV`s form i would say is worse than the other batsmen in question and maybe its time for a change not only in the batting but also in the captain and set up. how can we have changed so much in three years. get nasser hussain in the set up. he imporved us as a side as a captain now he can improve us as the bossand i would love to see an all english management. Players to look out for hildreth, denly, rashid we need to get them all in when they have had about three good county seasons behind them.

  • 133.
  • At 05:50 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • derek wrote:

hi. i totally agree with the comment from graham.there seems to be a yearning among our under acheiving commentators to see a return to the mediocrity of the years before we regained the ashes.the "well he scores a lot of runs in county cricket" thing which means he should play for england attitude.Strauss is a class act. do you remember the last time NZ were in England and he was being hailed as the new you remember when steve harmison was our version of courtney walsh.We have become so fickle and negative. we have to listen to the likes of Mike Selvey (a real star)and jack(well i know england are in agood position but i cant see them winning it from here)bannister gradually erode the status of really talented cricketers.add to this the fact that we now have two selectors one of which couldnt spin a coin let alone a ball when he was playing, and we will soon be in its time to recall ian salisbury territory.Fact is we should never have let duncan go. we now have a coach who has so far won nothing but because we are so afraid of being a really good side will continue because he has the backing of the mediocre cricketers who now run our game

  • 134.
  • At 05:59 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • ross jones wrote:

Great innings Strauss we knew you had it in you. Never doubted you for a second!!!

  • 135.
  • At 10:21 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Joe wrote:

Monty may well not take 5-70, given that currently he has 5-63 and three tailenders still to come!

  • 136.
  • At 10:30 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • Russell wrote:

5 for 70..? with the benefit hindsight it would seem Aggers, that you underestimated Mr Panesar... ;-)

MS Panesar 35 15 63 5 1.80

Go Monty!

  • 137.
  • At 10:43 PM on 25 Mar 2008,
  • alex wrote:

Personally, I hope we see some guile introduced to Monty Panesar’s bowling. There is not much turn but there is a little bounce and Panesar will have to tease batsmen out through subtlety rather than help from the pitch.

I am not expecting him to take 5 for 70 (if he did, it would be outstanding) but I do hope we see more in the way of experimentation.

is 5-65 good enough

  • 138.
  • At 09:55 AM on 26 Mar 2008,
  • Dave Sadler wrote:

I find it disappointing that Ryan Sidebottom leaves his home grown County team and develops into a world class player,the ECB should contract Ryan,s coach as part of England coaching team!!!

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