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Archives for May 2008

TMS prepares for Trent Bridge

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 15:19 UK time, Thursday, 29 May 2008

After the excitement of England's amazing fightback at Old Trafford the series against New Zealand comes to an end with the Third Test at Trent Bridge starting on 5 June.

Test Match Special will be back on air from 1045 BST on Thursday with Jonathan Agnew leading our team.

It's already been an interesting series for Aggers, where as well as talking about cricket he has spoken to an amazing range of people. He asked the governor of the Bank of England about the problems of the economy, he quizzed a former leader of the House of Lords about the future of Gordon Brown. And he also spoke to the chief executive of Manchester United about whether Ronaldo is leaving Old Trafford.

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Ask Bearders #171

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Bill Frindall | 10:28 UK time, Thursday, 29 May 2008

Welcome to Ask Bearders, where Test Match Special statistician Bill "The Bearded Wonder" Frindall answers your questions on all things cricket.

Below are Bill's responses to some of your questions posed at the end of his last column and if you have a question for Bill, leave it at the end of this blog entry. Please do include your country of residence - Bill loves to hear where all his correspondents are posting from.

Bill isn't able to answer all of your questions, however. BBC Sport staff will choose a selection of them and send them to Bearders for him to answer.

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A match to remember

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 12:55 UK time, Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Well it was a remarkable Test match at Old Trafford which will be remembered for many years to come mainly because of England's incredible fightback, but partly because of the conditions in which it was played.

If you were listening to our coverage you will have gathered that our commentary box was buffeted by strong winds for all four days of the game.

I am reluctant to complain too much because we were at least protected from the elements unlike the crowd in Manchester, the players and our intrepid Test Match Special reporter Alison Mitchell.

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England claim remarkable win

Jonathan Agnew | 15:54 UK time, Monday, 26 May 2008

In a howling gale, the like of which has not been seen on an English Test ground for many years, England completed a remarkable victory over New Zealand at Old Trafford.

It was remarkable, not for the manner in which they played necessarily - Andrew Strauss and Monty Panesar excepted - but remarkable for the turnaround in fortunes that will hit New Zealand hard.

They had the better of the game, but lost it in one session of madness on the third afternoon when they were bowled out for 114 which gave England their opening.

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England player ratings

Graham Gooch | 15:53 UK time, Monday, 26 May 2008

Here's how I rated the performances of the England team in the Old Trafford Test.

Andrew Strauss
Along with Panesar, he effectively won this Test match for England. After all the self doubt, and public criticism, he was back to somewhere near his best. 9

Alastair Cook
Partnered Strauss well but needs to expand his range of shots against spin. 6

Michael Vaughan
His captaincy skills were up to standard and I was also very impressed with his fluency and batting management against the dangerous Daniel Vettori 8

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Old Trafford outcome in balance

Jonathan Agnew | 18:49 UK time, Sunday, 25 May 2008

By keeping all but one of their second innings wickets intact in the final 27 overs of the day at Old Trafford, England find themselves well-placed to win a game that, at lunch, they had seemed destined to lose.

It was one of those crazy days of Test cricket in which 16 wickets fell and fortunes shifted dramatically throughout.

That England are back in the game is thanks to New Zealand's rather curious uncertainty when they batted with a lead of 179, and Monty Panesar's bowling down wind at the Statham End.

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England batting lacks authority

Graham Gooch | 14:12 UK time, Sunday, 25 May 2008

I am very concerned about the direction that the England team are heading in regarding their batting.

A successful line-up has to have a positive outlook and attitude as well as good intent and a consistent tempo.

Over the last three series England's batting performances have been way below par for a side that is expected to challenge the best in the world.

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Kiwis put England in a spin

Jonathan Agnew | 19:50 UK time, Saturday, 24 May 2008

Once again in this series, it is New Zealand rather than the more fancied England that have impressed. Having batted with great freedom, New Zealand then frustrated England whose top order, faced with a large total on a pitch they do not entirely trust, dug themselves into a hole.

The first sign of England's unease of the conditions was their preference for the light roller before they batted. This is a sure indication, so early in the match, that they do not believe the surface of the pitch will last five days.

This was endorsed by the dismissals of Alastair Cook - rather unlucky to be adjudged lbw to a ball that shot back and lifted off a crack - and Andrew Strauss who also received a delivery that moved significantly off a crack.

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Hair enjoys uneventful return

Jonathan Agnew | 17:35 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

Darrell Hair enjoyed an uneventful return to Test cricket. He correctly turned down a couple of early lbw appeals, and brandished his light meter when the drizzle started to fall. With bad light knocking 36 overs from the day, it was all very much business as usual.

But the cricket was thoroughly entertaining. New Zealand's openers, Jamie How and Aaron Redmond rattled along at four runs per over on a pitch that was noticeably slower than people predicted (it is only May, after all), but Ryan Sidebottom then bowled Redmond with an extraordinary delivery which must have deviated from one of the many cracks that make the strip look like a crazy-paved patio.

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Broken teeth and shattered noses

Graham Gooch | 16:36 UK time, Friday, 23 May 2008

New Zealand batsman Daniel Flynn "wore one" on the grille just after lunch on the first day of the second Test.

A bouncer from England paceman James Anderson took the left-hander by surprise and he left the field minus one of his front teeth.

This is part of the batsmen's lot when you opt to play the hook shot - the one I remember most is back in the mid-eighties against the great West Indian side of that era.

Mike Gatting was facing up to the legendary Malcolm Marshall, he attempted to hook but was rather slow on the ball and the ball made direct contact with his nose.

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Panesar might test Hair's patience

Jonathan Agnew | 13:52 UK time, Thursday, 22 May 2008

There will be outrage in some quarters, and especially in Pakistan.

But in much of the rest of the cricketing world, Darrell Hair's return to Test cricket at Old Trafford on Friday will be seen as a fully justified and fair step.

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TMS starts the series in style

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 13:29 UK time, Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Despite the bad weather at Lord's it was a hugely enjoyable start to the summer in the Test Match Special commentary box.

CMJ's much celebrated "fishing rod" incident was one of many hillarious moments which also included Henry Blofeld renaming Ryan Sidebottom as Ryan Stringfellow.

"Yes, I know he's not the famous nightclub owner, but they do have very similar hair," he explained.

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Kiwis take heart from battling draw

Jonathan Agnew | 17:44 UK time, Monday, 19 May 2008

New Zealand stumbled but, as in the first innings, they regrouped and fought back and they will take a great deal of heart from their performance here.

England must add another disappointment to a growing list of matches at Lord's that they have failed to win on the final day despite being in a good position.

The most obvious plus for England was Michael Vaughan's century which has killed off any talk of pressure on his place in the team. The captain can now relax and, hopefully, we will see many more innings like this one.

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Two captains and two decisions dominate the day

Jonathan Agnew | 19:42 UK time, Sunday, 18 May 2008

Michael Vaughan produced the ideal response for his critics with a lovely hundred, his sixth at Lord's and his first for 15 innings. It was a good knock, too, given that the ball continued to seam around all day and New Zealand were always amongst the wickets.

Throughout his struggle, Vaughan has never looked out of form, and that has been his greatest frustration. Today he drove with all his customary fluency and only perished at the end as he attempted to loft Daniel Vettori over midwicket.

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The Lord's effect

What is it about Lord's that affects players in different ways?

Michael Vaughan has just joined Graham Gooch with a record-equalling six hundreds at NW8, and there are great names on the honours boards in both dressing rooms, but Shane Warne, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralitharan are just some of the legends of the game that do not feature.

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Who's Rod?

Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 18:37 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008

Possibly the most famous moment ever broadcast on Test Match Special was, of course, the late great Brian Johnston reduced to a fit of giggles after Jonathan Agnew told listeners that Ian Botham "couldn't quite get his leg over" when describing Beefy's unusual dismissal in the 1991 Oval Test against the West Indies.

It is fascinating to hear the behind-the-scenes story of that moment. Johnston was actually really annoyed that he lost control on the air and only saw the funny side the next morning when the engineers at the ground played him the clip.

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Bad light, bad luck

Jonathan Agnew | 18:17 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008

The elements are conspiring to make it difficult for either team to win this game. Bad light dogged the second day, while the forecast for the third looks bleak indeed. Shame, not merely for the paying spectators who have been forking out as much as £75 for the best seats at Lord's, but because the match has been moving along nicely.

New Zealand's 277 does not look much of a first innings total, and England are well set in reply, but the tourists will be relieved to have recovered from their perilous 104 for 5. Jacob Oram eventually fell to Ryan Sidebottom after 2 hours and 20 minutes at the crease.

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Permanent daylight

Should there be permanent floodlights at all Test grounds in England?

Bad light has always been the bane of both players and spectators, and with ticket pricing going up by the series (I understand a single Ashes ticket at one ground next year could cost £103 just for a seat), is it now time to bring in permanent floodlighting so that spectators get better value for money?

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About Oliver Brett

Oliver Brett | 11:36 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008

After the solemn realisation at the age of 12 that I might not be good enough to play cricket for England I decided that the next best thing, writing about cricket, would have to suffice as a career.

I fell in love with the game as an eight-year-old at Headingley in 1981 and was at The Oval in 2005 when we won the Ashes for the first time in 18 years.

In my spare weekends, my unpredictable leg-spin is sometimes required for my village team, Turville Park.

I am also steadily attempting to introduce three young boys to the game - but sometimes feel I am fighting a losing battle against the rival appeals of Tiger Woods, Lewis Hamilton and Cristiano Ronaldo.

About Anna Thompson

Anna Thompson - BBC Sport journalist | 11:28 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008

I have been a sports journalist for more than a decade and have been a fan of cricket since I used to go to watch my best mate's dad open for South Shore in Blackpool when I was a young girl (he very much batted in the Tavare/Boycott mould).

I was acting sports editor of the Blackpool Gazette when a young whipper-snapper called Andrew Flintoff was making waves at St Annes and saw him make his debut for Lancashire in 1995.

Reagrding playing cricket, I am not a very good batsmen or bowler but a very good fielder and played rounders in a county league.

About Paul Grunill

Paul Grunill Paul Grunill | 10:34 UK time, Friday, 16 May 2008

A love of cricket was instilled in me early in life during numerous garden games with my father and grandfather and I later became 1st XI captain at my senior school, an honour which owed less to my talent than it did to a lack of obvious alternatives.

My proudest moment was leading the team to victory in the end of year Pupils v Masters game, having put 10 fielders within five yards of the bat as their number 11 took strike (he swiped, missed and was bowled) and I once took seven wickets in a house match by yelling appeals Merv Hughes would have been proud of into the face of a teacher who didn't understand the lbw rule.

Outside of school, I played for Geddington CC at village cricket level for several years am proud to boast that I was the most dilligent boring batsman in our league, having once occupied the crease for the entire 48 overs of an innings and only reached 50 in the last one.

I have worked for the BBC for almost 20 years and was proud to be cricket editor of this website from 2000 to 2007.

Sidebottom and England just off colour

Jonathan Agnew | 18:13 UK time, Thursday, 15 May 2008

A brilliant, outrageous 97 by Brendon McCullum interrupted a potential embarrassment for New Zealand on day one of the first Test at Lord's.

And, under the circumstances, that helped the tourists toward a reasonable first innings score as they closed on 208-6.

McCullum has brought his devastating one-day technique into Test cricket, combining deft footwork with a brilliant eye, and while he lives dangerously at times, his attacking instinct seizes the initiative from the bowlers.

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England should win but don't underestimate New Zealand

Alec Stewart - former England captain | 13:53 UK time, Thursday, 15 May 2008

I had a look at the Lord's pitch on Tuesday and I think it is one of the best I have seen in years.

But with the overhead rainy and cloudy conditions I think Michael Vaughan did the right thing by putting an inexperienced New Zealand batting line-up in to bat.

It's a shame we did not have any play before lunch and it will be frustrating for the players.

They were getting ready to come out to play only for the drizzle to return again but that is part and parcel of being a cricketer - it's about mental strength as well as physical strength...

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England must win with conviction

Jonathan Agnew | 15:55 UK time, Wednesday, 14 May 2008

A disappointing weather forecast for the opening day of this summer's international calendar threatens to keep the players cooped up in the Lord's pavilion.

However, with time able to be added onto the following days' play, batsmen from both teams should be tested in these early summer conditions.

On paper, one feels that it is New Zealand's inexperienced batsmen who will find it especially tough.

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Gearing up for the Lord's Test

Anna Thompson - BBC Sport journalist | 15:15 UK time, Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Lord's - So here we are again - the start of the English Test summer.
And typically it is sunny and warm today but the forecast for the first day's play against New Zealand on Thursday is for thundery showers.
But don't let that put you off as the home of cricket has the best drainage system in the world - the MCC tells me.
"We had an almighty downpour in the Test against India last summer," a spokesman said.
"But we were back playing again in no time. Spectators coming to Lord's always know there is a prospect of play because of the great drainage system."....

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Ask Bearders #170

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Bill Frindall | 17:24 UK time, Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Welcome to Ask Bearders, where Test Match Special statistician Bill "The Bearded Wonder" Frindall answers your questions on all things cricket.

Below are Bill's responses to some of your questions posed at the end of his last column and if you have a question for Bill, leave it at the end of this blog entry. Please do include your country of residence - Bill loves to hear where all his correspondents are posting from.

Bill isn't able to answer all of your questions, however. BBC Sport staff will choose a selection of them and send them to Bearders for him to answer.

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Vaughan under pressure for successful series bid

Jonathan Agnew | 11:06 UK time, Sunday, 11 May 2008

So we will never know if, in the eyes of the selectors, Andrew Flintoff's ankle has recovered sufficiently for him to return to Test cricket. Having asked around, I reckon they would have given him more time at Lancashire had this aggravating - and completely unconnected - side strain not cropped up.

Dave Roberts, Flintoff's fitness coach, told me that ideally he wanted Flintoff to have another 100 overs under his belt before being recalled - and there is also the fact that he has hardly scored a run this season to consider.

So Freddie returns to the physio's couch for now, and England have named what ended the recent New Zealand tour as their strongest 12.

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TMS ready for the summer

Adam Mountford | 16:48 UK time, Thursday, 8 May 2008

After a busy winter which saw TMS broadcast from places as widespread as Cape Town , Colombo and Christchurch, we are back on Thursday 15 May for the programme's 51st year bringing ball-by-ball commentary.

This is my first full summer as Test Match Special producer and I am really excited about the next few months. Although there is no doubt the whole landscape of world cricket feels a little different with the growing phenomenon of the Twenty20 game, there is something really special about the first Test Match of the summer.

I thought you'd like to know a little about our plans for Lord's and for the new season in general.

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