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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.

Strauss has endured 18 months of criticism and soul searching and even though he scored 177 in Napier in the final Test of the series in New Zealand earlier this year, in truth, he was nothing like at his best.

He appeared to have reinvented himself, barely playing a shot and relying on nudges and deflections but here, he increasingly he played strokes with real confidence, a cover drive here and a clip through mid-wicket there.

Strauss now appears really to believe that he has turned a corner and that can only be good news for England over the rest of the summer.

Andrew Strauss

New Zealand tried everything they could, but were not helped by the gale which made it very hard work for the bowlers at one end. With Daniel Vettori finding more assistance with the wind behind him, this left his toiling seamers gamely to battle into it.

Had they broken the partnership between Strauss and Michael Vaughan in the first hour of the day, the pressure on the middle order would have been intense, but the two batsmen added 74 precious runs before Vaughan edged Martin to McCullum for 48.

Kevin Pietersen seemed determined to play positively after two rather tame dismissals in the series so far, but having seen Staruss caught at slip, he was run out going for a second run, bringing in Paul Collingwood.

Immediately Vettori struck him on the pad and the whole of New Zealand appealed to umpire Simon Taufel, who gave Monty Panesar four lbw's on the third day.

There seemed to be little difference between this one and others he had given out, but, on Collingwood's 32nd birthday, he ruled in his favour and when Ian O'Brien then dropped a sitter off Ian Bell, New Zealand's fate was sealed

England are now one up in the series despite playing uninspired and throroughly unconvincing cricket for much of the game. The fact is that New Zealand blew this one, and they must now hope for another chance at Trent Bridge.


  • Comment number 1.

    I think, had New Zealand made the lead over 300, we would be sitting here now looking at a very different result. It was the sub 300 target that made England believe they could do it, and for once they delivered. However, they seem mentally frail, and Vaughan, Cook and Strauss apart everyone seems to lack form.

    If we want to perform against South Africa, we will need a much stronger middle order performance later this year.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good comments, Aggers - whether people take the view that NZ threw it away or that England won it, the result will, I believe, do wonders for England's confidence this summer. We should give thanks that this match, and the manner of the win, happened now rather than late in the summer!

    Looking forward to Trent Bridge - is Tuffers rejoining? Keeping the current lot of reprobates, and adding Tuffers and Henry in, would make it perfect!

    Pam Nash.

  • Comment number 3.

    To echo #1, this is a good time to strengthen the middle order and not to rest on imaginary laurels. Ambrose, Anderson and Broad could all be axed, too - you can't play a bowler because of his batting and it's about time Read got another go.

  • Comment number 4.

    Broad should stay but I agree Ambrose and Anderson need to be dropped.

    As for today, whether NZ lost it or not, credit should go to England for showing the belief and determination that many have doubted they lacked.

    Well done Strauss on his ton

  • Comment number 5.

    When Broad lost his wicket before Sunday lunch time. No one could have predicted that a little over 24hrs later England would be victorious. Credit has to go to them for turning around the match in such a short space of time.

    Monty produced his usual superb Old Trafford performance and it's good to see Strauss back in the runs. The man is a quality international opener and hopefully it will get some his critics off his back.

    However this shouldn't disguise the fact that England's poor performance in the opening 2.5 days of the test nearly gave victory to New Zealand. Watching their batsman, Taylor especially, was exhilarating. Watching England was a turgid and frustrating. Our batting up is too fragile and action needs to be taken.

    My worry is that after listening to Aggers interview with Vaughan, the England captain and selectors will think all is right with the world and no changes need to
    be made.

    It's right to praise England performance in coming back and winning this test, but it shouldn't paper over the cracks in this teams line up.

  • Comment number 6.

    Ambrose definitely needs to improve with the bat to deserve in space in the side, but considering that we have chopped and changed with the wicket-keeping role in recent seasons I am tempted to suggest that we bear with him for the whole of the summer to give him a proper run in the side.

  • Comment number 7.

    Hey, hey, what exactly is Ambrose supposed to have done wrong? He's only had five matches, eight innings. Hardly time to prove himself either way (and given those eight innings have included a century, a fifty and two ducks, you can't really say it *has* been proven either way). There's been nothing particularly bad about his keeping beyond maybe standing a bit too far back.

    As for Broad, without his batting we would have been following on and pretty much any chance of victory would have gone out of the window.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why are the ECB leaving Old Trafford when they know damned well that its Monty's favourite pitch - Cricket Australia wouldn't stop using Warne's favourite...

  • Comment number 9.

    To come back on this topic, I have to say that I like Broad and think he has potential, but there's not enough there with the ball at the moment to justify a place over, for example, Flintoff in a 4 man attack. I also haven't seen consistency from Anderson, so I think it's time Hoggard came back (when fit). Simon Jones has been working wonders on the county scene, but at the end of the day it comes down to Sidebottom or Hoggard, and I wouldn't like to drop either of them.

    I was saying in 2005 we should have a 4 man attack. On the assumption Flintoff returns to form with the bat (which may never happen of course), we could potentially bat down to number 8, which would be a strong batting lineup if everyone performs, and a good backup if the usual collapse happens.

  • Comment number 10.

    #7 the selectors have been at fault not Ambrose. Broad's good batting was noted, but as part of a 3-man seam attack he's not quite there yet. Save him for the one-dayers.

  • Comment number 11.

    I tend to agree with many of these comments, apart from the ones about Ambrose.

    Broad should not be learning his craft in Test cricket. What I fear is that South Africa will launch into him, destroy his confidence and England will lose a potential all-rounder. He really does need to play more games for his county and an extra few mph on the speed gun will not go amiss when he faces the best batsmen in the world.

    I am worried about Anderson. You can, as one person posted, prove anything with statistics if you select them carefully (even the truth) and in Anderson's case the fact that he lacks the consistency that he showed early in his career in not in doubt. Even when his numbers were carefully selected to select his best recent patch he was still averaging 37 and has a nasty habit of putting extreme pressure on the rest of the 4-man attack by delivering expensive new ball spells just when you think that everything as clicked and he is learning consistency. A new ball bowler in a side that aspires to be the best should not be going regularly for 5 or more an over over the course of an innings.

    Paul Collingwood is in bad nick and is also carrying an injury. Now he could be rested from a position of strength and told to fix his shoulder and get some runs and confidence for Durham while England are on top in the series and can, at worst, draw it.

    As for dropping Ambrose after 5 Tests: what lunacy is this? He scored a good 50 and a match-winning century in his first two Tests and scored a useful 31 in his third. He has done pretty well with the gloves; has missed very little and taken some brilliant catches. Two scores of 0 and 3 since Napier are not grounds to drop him except for people who are intent on destroying the England side as effectively as possible (some regular England-bashers here would LOVE us to drop Ambrose and thus weaken the team).

  • Comment number 12.

    Here are some sobering stats for any NZ cricket fan about our 2nd Inns curse: (1st Inns score – 1st Inns lead – 2nd Inns score – result)

    Vs England 1999: 226/ 100/ 107/ Lost by 7 wickets
    Vs India 1999: 256/ -74/ 155/ Lost by 8 wickets
    Vs South Africa 2000: 298/ -63/ 148/ Lost by 7 wickets
    Vs Pakistan 2001: 252/ -94/ 131/ Lost by 299 runs
    Vs Pakistan 2003: 366/ 170/ 103/ Lost by 7 wickets
    Vs South Africa 2004: 297/ -16/ 252/ Lost by 6 wickets
    Vs England 2004 (1st Test): 386/ -55/ 336/ Lost by 7 wickets
    Vs England 2004 (2nd Test): 409/ -117/ 161/ Lost by 9 wickets
    Vs England 2004 (3rd Test): 384/ 55/ 218/ Lost by 4 wickets
    Vs Australia 2004: 353/ -222/ 76/ Lost by innings and 156 runs
    Vs Australia 2005 (1st Test): 433/ 1/ 131/ Lost by 9 wickets
    Vs Australia 2005 (3rd Test): 292/ -91/ 254/ Lost by 9 wickets
    Vs South Africa 2006: 327/ 51/ 120/ Lost by 128 runs
    Vs South Africa 2007: 188/ -195/ 136/ Lost by innings and 59 runs
    Vs England 2008: 381/ 179/ 114/ Lost by 6 wickets

    Who loses a test after a lead of 180? Unbelievable. Only NZ could pull this off.

    Take heart England fans, for all your team's mediocrity and lack of aggression, at least you're not as bad as NZ.

  • Comment number 13.

    Good comments Aggers - Strauss deserved his second chance, and has taken it well.

    Perhaps now when Vaughan stands down as captain, Strauss will get also his chance to continue where he left off two summers ago before being dropped (as captain) for the disaster waiting to happen (Flintoff for those with short memories).

    It was under his captaincy that Monty really started to bloom, and Chris Read looked like an international keeper/batsman. Unfortunately, I suspect that the selectors now will turn back to Prior, but that's another story.

  • Comment number 14.

    Kuroneko, if England avoid defeat in the 3rd Test they will move up to 3rd in the ICC Test rankings and will be within a fraction of recovering 2nd spot. If England are mediocre, what does that make the rest of the sides in world cricket????

  • Comment number 15.

    How on earth can anyone suggest dropping Ambrose? Geraint Jones had 34 tests to prove himself, Matt Prior had 10 but displayed he couldn't do one thing vital for keepers - catch. Ambrose has been keeping confidently and has averaged 25 after only 5 games, he needs at least the rest of the summer and preferably more to have a chance. Why is it that batsmen and bowlers can underperform on a regular basis, Strauss for 2 years prior to being dropped, Harmison for roughly the same period, yet keepers can have two bad games and all of a sudden they're rubbish. So fickle. On a more general note, I think we batted brilliantly today and it's nice to see us show some mettle.

  • Comment number 16.

    I was actually trying to be positive about England!! I was saying that England's approach in this Test lacked aggression (esp. their 1st Inns batting) and NZ generally had the better of the match. If you can play like this and still win, it's a good sign.

  • Comment number 17.

    I think its a bit much to be looking to push out Anderson and Ambrose, neither of whom have done a whole lot wrong in this series yet. As for Broad, I think he needs time, but to my mind is looking like a crucial player for the future of English cricket.

    Personally I am more concerned about the batting line up. I think Collingwood and Bell have something to prove right now. I kind of feel that Collingwood has been liviong off his double century in the Ashes for a long time now, and Bell has yet to fill the 'Graham Thorpe' role that England need adequately. Having said that the reshuffle at the top of the order seems to have been succesful. Strauss seems happier and has found some test form again, whilst Vaughan, at least as captain, has generally been more effective in the 3 spot.

    I am actually not convinced by KP at the moment either. I wouldn't advocate dropping him, but has he really done anything t deserve the number 4 spot? I reckon it might be worth giving Bell a run at 4, dropping KP to 5 and having Collingwood come in at 6.

    In the end though, a good win. For any team to win from 180 behind on first innings is a super huma effort, and both Strauss and Monty deserve all the plaudits for great displays.

  • Comment number 18.

    I must agree with the comment that at the moment England are a mediocre team. It is not enough for players to retain their place on the basis that they haven't done too much wrong.
    We have to be realistic about New Zealand, they are a team in transition and their batting line up is terribly weak. England let them get 380 on a helpful wicket with good pace in it. If England's seamers bowl this way to South Africa, the likes of Smith and Kallis will bat England out of the game. If England are to return to being a good team then they must have more penetration up front. We must hope that Flintoff and Jones return and stay fit.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well it was nice to see England bat in a positive manner today. First time in quite some while. That's how we will need to bat against S Africa later in the summer.

    Dont think for one minute that the South Africans will let us off the hook like NZ did. We were lucky to get the chance after our first innings performance. With the likes of the potentially world class Dale Steyn along with Nel, Morkel and Ntini steaming in to bowl we will need to be on top form.

    Having said all that England have managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat on two occasions over the two series (between NZ/ENG) so far so perhaps the issue is a motivational one. Perhaps some blame lies with the management/Michael Vaughan for the rollercoaster form of the team. Who knows? Trying to work out the England Cricket enigma is an impossible task (only England could beat the Aussies in a series and then get whitewashed in the next 18 months later).

    The South Africans are going to be strong over here. As well as the bowlers I mentioned earlier there is the small matter of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Hashim Amla, AB De Villiers and Mark Boucher for our bowlers to contend with. In my book they are favourites, England are going to have to play very well to come away victorious in that series.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's good that the fans seem more positive than Aggers. The media have been saying for a while the players need to be more confident. Perhaps they could take their own advice?
    We've just won a Test under really awful conditions on a pitch that took 16 wickets in one day. England didn't collapse. New Zealand did. Who had the mental strength and stamina for the five day fight? And we won it in under four. Bell and Collingwood saw us home despite being under par. That's what you want, sticking there when things aren't easy. But the hard to please media will do everything to undermine their elation I'm sure.

  • Comment number 21.

    If the England team was being picked on form rather than reputation, Collingwood would be sent back to play some games for Durham to try and find some form. This obviously is in no danger of happening, seeing as he is the captain of the one day side, hence undroppable.

  • Comment number 22.

    Mr Birtwhistle there is no way we can talk about Flintoff in a 4 man bowling attack at present, until hes played (and bowled) a lot more he cannot be risked in a 5 day game and definitley not with only 3 other bowlers.

    With regards to Anderson, as everyone knows his problem is consistency. He can take 3 wickets in 2 overs and then go for 6 an over for the next 18 overs, this is of course not england standard. I believe Hoggard needs to return in his place for the SA series and Broad needs to continue as he is clearly a talent. His bowling does need to become more cutting edge, but that should come over time (hopefully sooner rather than later) and he has the potential to be a classy batsman.

    For the batsman, i reckon give collingwood and bell a last chance at Trent bridge and see after that, i agree with Saintlymark that KP has been underperforming and owes England a number of dominating batting displays, but he did hint at that today until his stupid run out.

  • Comment number 23.

    I'm going to be a little harse. Other than Strauss's 2 innings, Scores from Cooke, Vaughan, Pieterson; Monty's 6fer, Jamie's 4fer;--------

    What did the rest do?(Bell, Colly, Ambrose, Broad, Sidebottom on this occasion).

    That's half the team not troubling the events as basic passengers in this Old Trafford test! IMO

  • Comment number 24.

    Strauss over the last few tests has reminded me of Matthew Hayden in 2005. The first four tests of that ashes summer he threw away his wicket by being too aggressive but ground out a defensive-based century at the oval. He has since gone on to return to his scintillating best. I'm not saying we should expect Hayden-at-the-world-cup-esque fireworks from Strauss, but I expect him to become a bit more adventurous now he has some runs behind him.

    On matters of selection, I think now would be the perfect time to make some changes. Our pace attack is too innocuous - I expect Anderson to make way for Flintoff when he returns, but in the meantime I'd like to see Tremlett to see if some extra bounce can add some variety.

    For my money, Ambrose has to stay. There's no other obviously better candidate, and Ambrose has done enough to at least merit a decent run.

  • Comment number 25.

    Good result for England. Having been to Old Trafford on the 3rd day I could never have imagined they would come out with a win, even after bowling NZ out. Credit to the batsmen second time round though.

    I think Anderson should stay as, despite being expensive, he has taken wickets. When Flintoff returns he should replace Broad and bat at #8. Broad will be a quality player in years to come but needs to spend more time in county cricket.

    As for the batting, I think England were too hasty in dropping Chris Read. Ambrose has been pretty hopeless since his debut knock and doesn't quite look up to test cricket just yet. Read is the best keeper around and does score a lot of runs for Notts.

    If Collingwood's form doesn't improve I think he needs to go too. He's becoming a liability in the middle order, and a more stable batsmen should take his place. Ramprakash being the obvious candidate but age could well be a factor, if not then possibly Hildreth or Ed Joyce.

  • Comment number 26.

    Lingos, hopeless since his debut knock? He followed up that debut 50 with a century in his second Test and a vauable 30 when England were setting a target in his 3rd match.

    What criterion are you using? Chris Read took 12 Tests to score his first 50 and never passed 30 in 36 ODIs.

  • Comment number 27.

    I pretty much agree with most of the comments, Broad looks good for the future but is not quick enough and should not be learning his trade in test match cricket. He needs to be 5mph quicker at least. Collingwood or Bell should make way for a in form player (if there is one in the county scene at the moment). Collingwood particularly looks like a walking wicket although the selectors seem obsessed that his dibbly-dobblers are an 'option' to the bowling attack - Bopara is a possibility there. We desperately need some pace in the attack - I would bring Simon Jones straight back (please not Tremlett - there's no way he's a test class bowler). If we turn up to play south africa with this bowling attack we'll be batted out of the game. I think Ambrose will stay till the end of the summer - although I'm not seeing too much evidence of a class player there-his batting will really need to turn around if he's to become the long term option

  • Comment number 28.

    Incidentally, Lingos, Ed Joyce is having a dreadful season. If he's the form batsman we must be in desperate straits.

  • Comment number 29.

    I do apologise. I thought he scored the hundred in his first test.

    I do sense however, that we are going down the same road as that of Matt Prior - bright start and then tailing off and eventually getting dropped.

  • Comment number 30.

    Its obvious what they need to do. Panesar and Anderson need the boot, get Flintoff and Swann in the side and we'll have players who can at least flail the bat a bit down to 10. If Sidebottom doesn't buck his ideas up and get at least a 50 soon kick him out too and go with a three man attack. Owais Shah can keep a bit, who needs Ambrose? Get rid of him too, maybe we'll see a few more dropped catches but getting over those mistakes will help build character within the side.

    That should sort the batting problems out.

  • Comment number 31.

    Lingos, he has only has two innings in this series, although scores of 3 and 0 are slightly worrying. Right now, his scores show a strongly bimodal distribution: if he gets to 10, he makes a significant score, but half the time he doesn't reach 10.

    However, his wicket-keeping has been excellent and he really has not added constant gaffs with the gloves, as Matt Prior did. So, most fans would say that he is doing what he is paid to do.

    Incidentally, Matt Prior scored heavily in Sri Lanka, but was frankly dire with the gloves: he was dropped because he was unable to stop the ball, let alone catch it, not because he was scoring loads of runs (which he was).

  • Comment number 32.

    England's batting performance was magnificent, Andrew Strauss sublime. If they could just get into the habit of playing so fluently more often, England could win far more than they lose. They played with controlled intent with Strauss the epitome of how to play a match winning innings under pressure.

    It was in stark contrast to their first innings, somebody must have said something. The scoreboard seemed so static in the first innings, it was like watching a completely different team.

    If this is a taste of what watching England is going to be like this summer, then we are in for a terrific summer.

  • Comment number 33.

    JonCrob - are you being serious? Get rid of arguably our best spinner and our most consistant bowler? It was the bowlers who gave England the chance to win this match.

    I don't think we need a major overhaul, just 1 or 2 minor changes.

  • Comment number 34.

    JonCrab, I'm all for people expressing there own opinions but what are you on about?

    Drop Panesar???? The man who just won us the match with a career best performance.

    Drop Sidebottom because he has n't got a test 50 yet? Are we talking about the same man who was man of the series over in New Zealand with 20+ wickets. Are we expecting one of our best bowlers to reach 50 on a regular occasion with the bat otherwise he should be dropped?????

    And Owais Shah as our regular test keeper??????????????

  • Comment number 35.

    I think 2 changes are needed, one batsman and one bowler. The middle order collapses far to often and as KP can't be dropped either Bell or Colly should go. It's a shame because both are good players, whole hearted guys who bring something extra to the sidecwith their fielding. For some reason they form a brittle middle order so a change should be made. I would love Ramps to be given 4 tests this summer (is he fit?). Remember the future never comes.

    As for the bowling Broad would be great as a 4th seamer but as England don't have this luxury he may have to go, hopefully to come roaring back in the future with an extra yard of pace and a 1st class hundred under his belt. Who to replace him? We need someone with a bit of genuine pace. Time to start checking Aussies for English Grannys.

    All in all though great game and let's not build the South Africans up too much, England can play a bit to you know.

  • Comment number 36.

    gentlemen or indeed ladies, panic not I think Joncrab is using humour as a tool to show up the absurdity of the constant call for heads to roll. Sorry Joncrab if I have got you wrong but I loved your comments!

  • Comment number 37.

    Mrkcrtr (post No.8) has a point. The reason the ECB are leaving Old Trafford is they have no feel for cricket merely money. They know Lancashire are anxious to improve the ground but cannot afford to do so without a guarantee of test match cricket but rather that give the guarantee the ECB make sure there is not to be an Old Trafford test match for at least three years. England have done well at Old Trafford in recent years and badly at Lords so what do the brains at ECB do? - handicap England by playing twice at Lords and not at all at OT. Most people realise that a winning team generates interest and a losing team does not. It is therefore in the financial interests of the ECB to play at those grounds where the national team has most chance of success but this seems to be too complicated for the ECB to grasp

  • Comment number 38.

    Stuart Broad may need more experience, but I'm not sure our County circuit is good enough for him to learn the necessary skills. Regarding him needing more pace, he needs to make sure his precision and accuracy is top notch first, ala McGrath, not putting on extra Mph. McGrath in his latter years wasn't express but still caused problems for batsmen. If Broad becomes consistently accurate, then increase pace (which in my view he doesn't yet need to) then he will be top class. Anyway, he's pretty damn good already!

  • Comment number 39.

    Amazing match. Man of the match surely deserved to go to the operator of the heavy roller in England's 4th innings - the difference in bounce between then and earlier in the match surely made all the difference, it's not just the Kiwi seam attack being too poor.

    And kudos to the two men who won the match for England - umpires Taufel and Hair. Those tucked up in the media centre might not have been aware of it, but it was spotting with rain pretty much constantly through the first two sessions on Friday (I was there....), yet play continued until it really started to pour. Normally Test matches get stopped at the first sign of rain, but if it hadn't been for those extra few hours on Friday we'd have been stuck with 70 runs to go waiting on the weather forecast for tomorrow. And as someone who had trekked up from exile in the South, I particularly appreciated the effort - a refund cheque is a poor substitute. Never mind that the ECB are strangely unwilling to pay back the time off work, £100-odd spent in train fares, beer, food etc etc.

    So it was all the more frustrating when they went off for light later that day, when it certainly appeared no worse than earlier. And these days we don't even have lights on the scoreboard to tell us what's going on. I really love the new scoreboard-TVs they have at the Oval and at long last at Lords, surely it must be possible to get them to display a numerical value of the light? Perhaps a meter could be installed permanently on the covers, with a wireless link to the scorebox? That way there would be no need to wait for an inspection, as soon as it brightened, they could get out there. And whilst I'm about it, could we have a (discrete) permanent display of last ball speed on the scoreboard now that we don't have the dedicated displays on the boundary fence, it's not quite the same waiting for the whim of the TV producer to show them. OTOH, I'm loving the mini-highlights for the crowd, and we seem to be getting a better service in general on replays, although at Lords they are noticeably reluctant to show anything vaguely controversial.

    I couldn't believe the Bill Morris interview, coming out with tosh like "we're the England and Wales Board, so we should move a Test from Manchester to Cardiff. Last time I looked, Bangor and Llandudno were both in Wales, were rather more Welsh than Cardiff in fact, but this decision makes it more difficult for those Welsh cricket fans to see a Test. Leaving them aside, "Lancashire" (including Manchester and Merseyside) has a population of over 5.3m compared to less than 3m in all of Wales. And the argument that OT couldn't sell out a game against NZ in May is pathetic too It's like TV companies moving unwanted programmes around the schedules so that they can blame poor ratings for ditching them. Even Lords couldn't sell out last weekend against the same opponents, so Bill Morris apparently thinks that Lords is no longer a suitable venue for Test matches!!!

    Although OT is looking ever shabbier (the flags on the pavillion in particular), surely the last few days prove that the most important "facility" is the 22 yards between the stumps? The ECB need to work out whether their job is to advertise the Welsh Development Agency or to organise matches that are a)exciting and b)won by England. Aside from the obvious point, I know which will do more to inspire kids to get into cricket, but of course any bureaucracy prefers the route that lines its pockets and inflates itself further.

    On the other hand, they are getting one thing spot on, with these handouts to improve the drainage in outfields. Anything that gives spectators more cricket is a good thing, and I'd welcome anything that would help get round the light problem, whether it was floodlights or switching to white/pink balls once light levels dropped below a certain level. Yes, Kookaburras aren't the same, but they're the lesser of two evils compared to sitting there with nothing to do but watch the grass grow (even with TMS as distraction...).

    I quite understand why county chairman like "facilities", they're the corporate equivalent of a certain blue pill (which I won't mention by name for fear of triggering the spam detectors). But the average cricket fan just wants to watch cricket. OK, we want sufficient capacity that we can actually attend a match. We would prefer to be uncovered rather than spend a day in an underground carpark (ie downstairs in the Compton/Edrich) - we're English, dammit, we do own umbrellas! Otherwise we don't ask for much - toilets that aren't flooded (and we don't mind holding our noses a bit if it means we don't have to queue long), and not having to queue so long for beer that you miss half the match (qv the Canterbury ODI vs Kenya in 1999). We don't need fancy eating facilities - in fact the lack of "official" ones at OT means that there's a better range of "unofficial" eats than at most grounds. But it would be nice if the northern grounds allowed you to bring in a civilised amount of booze like at Lords. To be honest, that's far more important than whether they let in the trumpeter.

    And almost the most important "facility" is outside the remit of the cricket authorities, after a few sherbets at the game you need decent public transport from the ground. That's a big advantage for the London grounds, OT isn't too bad in that respect - but it sounds like Cardiff is heading for problems on the scale of the Rose Bowl.

    As an aside, Aggers, you asked why more people didn't turn up today. I'm sure your Bank Holiday theory had something to do with it, and the wild weather as well - maybe more apparent to those who weren't tucked up in double-glazed comfort. But one big difference between 2008 and 2005 is the lack of terrestrial TV coverage, despite your efforts this match has been invisible to the "casual" punter - the ECB are reaping what they sow. And speaking for myself I would have stayed up for the weekend if it wasn't for the fact that the West Coast Mainline was out of action for the Bank Holiday - I booked a seat for Friday night rather than spend more time on the return journey than watching cricket. Surely more thought can be put into things like that - it was equally daft having a Lords Test on the same day as the Cup Final at Wembley. From the smell of disinfectant in the Jubilee Line the following day, the poor football fans had to endure all sorts of bodily fluids from the egg-and-bacon brigade.

    Other thoughts :

    Kudos to Sidebottom for the impromptu autograph session under the Edrich stand Sunday before last - at least I think it was his hair sticking out from a horde of kids. Not enough players take advantage of the free time they get during matches to do that kind of stuff, it's important. And kudos to the bloke with a Shilpa in tow who signed a few in front of Stand L during play on Friday, although it has to be said he was rather less mobbed - perhaps the fans are proportional to the amount of hair on the head? :-))

    Flynn would still have all his teeth if he wasn't wearing a helmet - he wouldn't have played such a daft shot.

    How oily is that OT announcer? Bit less saccharin, bit more solid information would be nice.

    1-0 up against the Kiwis is a better time to blood new players than 1-0 down against Australia - I quite agree that Colly (and maybe others) should be given time out of the spotlight to find their form on the understanding that the door is still open for them to come back. Vaughan must be delusional if he thinks everything in the garden is rosy.

    Why the heck do players need drinks bringing out 10 minutes after play starts, on a day so damp that moisture is going into your pores, not out of them? Or was it Bovril?

    Yet we weren't treated to the npower girls "servicing" the photographers (with drinks etc - what did you think I meant?) - shame. And how come Gatt managed to find the one "mature" "girl" on their stand who was more steam-power than npower...?

    Hint to npower - not a good idea to put your name on cards at Old Trafford that were advertising the 2009 Ashes series....

    Rant over - roll on the next emotional rollercoaster at Trent Bridge.

  • Comment number 40.

    Stop_it_Aggers, is Michael Vaughan delusional, or is he just backing his side in public? Should he have come out and condemned them roundly in public just after a comeback victory? What kind of captain thanks his side in the moment of victory by criticising them on tv?

  • Comment number 41.

    Flipping heck, stop it aggers, that was a bit of a mouthful! Great game just goes to show teams don't have to be playing well to entertain.

    Think Joe Denly for Collingwood, and maybe Tremlett for Anderson, think we should perservere with Broad, who's making a decent contribution.

    If Simon Jones keeps performing then there may well be a slot for him against SA, but lets not rush him, ditto Freddy

  • Comment number 42.

    I seriously think the selectors should look at Hildreth as a possible middle order batsmen.

    He has continued on his good form from last year, is aggressive - which England desperately need. You can't afford to have only 1 aggressive batsmen in your top 6. He can also turn his arm and isn't bad in the field.

    Yes Bopara is a better bowler but whenever I've seen Bopara he doesn't quite believe he belongs in international cricket and for me Shah is too much like Bell.

    Though as a Somerset fan I'm quite happy for selectors to continue to ignore him.

  • Comment number 43.

    Well done england and very well done to our top 3 for once.

    Our next 3 need to liven up a bit and if collingwood is unfit then bring in someone otherwise there is noone at county level exactly setting the world alight we can all have our favorite picks i would go for mcgrath but if fit collingwood should play.

    ambrose looks good enough as a keeper for me runs are not a worry in my book the top six should be sorting out the bulk of them.

    Bowling: good to see a spring in montys step again and the seamers did ok in what were strange conditions probably never to be repeated in my lifetime.

    Broad should not be playing ,but now he is in, i wouldn't change it for the next test.

    We will all have a clearer view of the bowling candidates in another 6 weeks or so but a much slicker game all round will be required against the South Africans if we are to beat them .

  • Comment number 44.

    Broad has taken 3 wickets at over 70 this series, which against New Zealand at home is poor. Anderson has taken 10 wickets at 26 which is good. Why would people drop Anderson and not Broad?

  • Comment number 45.

    First of all, GREAT WIN to England! There were flaws, there were problems, but the result is what it is all about.

    Well done Strauss and Monty in particular. And, to a lesser extent Vaughny. Great Captain, but c'mon, if you bat that slowly in the first Inns, then a century is your minimum requirement.

    Next test: rest Colly and bring in Ramps for a final flurry. Let Colly know it is temporary - he will be back.

    Hoggy for Anderson. Anyone can milk tail enders but Hoggy gets to the top guys.

    Also, let Anderson know he is being 'rested' and not rejected. We need a football-stlye squad system with the understanding that all players are part of the squad, if they play or not!

  • Comment number 46.

    What a miserable piece! How about well done Strauss for a battling performance? Well done for the England management for giving him a break over the winter - since when he has become one of the highest run scorers of the year so far. How about I was wrong calling for Strauss to be dropped. How about something positive for a change.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think Collingwood is an asset to the team, he has great attitude, is a fantastic gully, bats OK and bowls a bit.

    But not at the moment. He's injured, has lost confidence, is not fielding in a position that really gets the best out of him and therefore he's marginalised in the match, he needs to be involved. His batting is currently dire and he never seems to bowl at all.

    Frankly, he really does need to go, temporarily. And I shall be sad to see it, but I do feel it's for the best.

    Bell is class. A short while ago I felt that his confidence was on the up, but now it seems to be a bit down again. He must stay.

  • Comment number 48.

    looking forward to watching Strauss bat all summer. he hasn't really looked like getting out much, has he? i reckon a first innings BIGONE in the next Lords test is on the cards!

    i reckon Broad and Monty will kick on this summer but i fear Siders is looking a touch 'spent'... perhaps rest him for the last NZ test and bring him back fresh for the Saffers?

    and Anderson?! pretty disappointing most of the time but at least he's better than Harmison, Hoggard, Tremlett...but yeah that really isn't saying much when we've got Steyn, Ntini, Morkel and Kallis on their way over!

    FYI the SAffers all HATE playing Strauss! obviously cos he's got a good record against them, but also cos he's the one person who never ever EVER rises to their backchat. my SAffy cricketing uncle told me that...

    BTW. Porchos.
    since when has "bat's ok, bowls a bit" been anywhere near good enough for the mighty England Test Team?!?!

    *remembers Mark Ealham, Craig White, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc, etc,.,*

    ok, you may have a point!

  • Comment number 49.


    Well, this is the point, isn't it? 'Bats OK, bowls a bit' isn't good enough for any international team, really. (It's a product of one day cricket, I believe).

    But what is the alternative?

    It's the road which has been taken for too long, IMHO, and is oh so evident in the wicket-keeping conondrum. Bats a bit bowls OK 'might' be all right, but 'keeps a bit bats a bit' definitely isn't.

    No one expects a opening bat or number four to keep his place through his bowling, and the same for a specialist bowler.

    Mind you it has been worse, remember Panesar was kept out of the team because all he did was bowl?

    You have to be in the team because you can hold a place at batting, bowling, keeping, or are a genuine all rounder (not the sort which never bowls).

    At test level if you are not the best you will be found out, which is why many English players seem to burst onto the scene and then fade. Good teams work this kind of player out. (and dare I mention Pietersen here?)

  • Comment number 50.

    Nice one Stop_it_Aggers !!!!! well ..... JimmyA didn't do a lot wrong did he ???? He knocked out Flynn for the count and in doing so made NZ one topline batsman short. Couldn't have asked for anything more could you ??? Now had the Windies beaten the Aussies ........ that would have been just perfect.
    Drop Colly for the next one and get some promising youngsters in from the County set-up

  • Comment number 51.

    Matt Prior never deserved to be dropped as he was out scoring the specialist batsmen on his last tour. He has gone away worked on his keeping and is now keeping well and out scoring all the england qualified batsmen in the country. Therefore he should be selected again now on the basis that we really should be selecting people on form. Arguably he could be picked as a specialist batsman if the selectors really think Ambrose is worth perservering with. Personally i dont.

  • Comment number 52.

    I agree with stop_it_aggers regarding his comments on the Bill Morris interview.

    I haven't heard such a load of tosh since the last Labour Party Political Broadcast! As he is an ex-union leader, perhaps that's not surprising.

    His comment that Wales is part of the United Kingdom, caused a wry chuckle - perhaps someone should remind the Welsh of that fact.

    The problems regarding Sophia Gardens or whatever it is called now are well documented, I for one don't believe the Welsh will turn up and support an English team (especially without any Welshmen in the side), and this whole mess is being orchestrated for media and minority interests.

    Sorry Bill, your interview was nothing more than bland pseudo political hot air, and, compared to earlier lunchtime guests this season (Lesley Garrett particularly) was a waste of space.

    One hopes (without any confidence) that the ECB will start to think about the ordinary fan, who doesn't want to spend a fortune paying blackmail to Murdoch so we can watch the best sporting events on TV, who just wants to sit and watch a Test Match, with decent loos and food.

    Old Trafford, although it needs a refurbish, gives us that. Sophia Gardens will resemble the prawn cocktail cxrowd at the new Wembley, more concerned with scoffing their executive box goodies than supporting or watching the cricket.

    Old Trafford is a great pitch for England - so we take Tests away from a winning ground and give more to Lords where we have an appalling record and a Welsh ground that's a political fudge.

    Rant over.

    On the team front, yes Collingwood should be rested (not dropped) to give a chance to get his shoulder sorted and get some confidence back.

    Pieterson should be given a kick up the backside - no-one is indispensable and he has not performed as we have come to expect. Perhaps is mind is set on the IPL - ah well, once a mercenary ............

    Bell should be retained, he is a class player who needs to believe he is a test player and capable of posting big scores against the better sides.

    Anderson should go - he is just a tail end bully - I think I'm right in saying his wickets are generally lower end batsmen. He is inconsistent and expensive.

    Broad - needs to refine his trade. One for the future certainly, and his batting is a help, but his bowling is too expensive at the moment and he should go back to learn the trade more at county level.

    Ambrose - ridiuclous to suggest he should be replaced so soon, especially by Matt 'Butterfingers' Prior. However, I still believe Chris Read should never have been dropped, but his face didn't fit with Dncan Fletcher.

    Who to bring in? Ah - there's the question. If fit, Hoggard, Simon Jones, Freddie (as a batsman and OCCASIONAL bowler) - anyone for Harmie??

  • Comment number 53.

    The fact remains England got out of jail to win this test and are lacking runs in the middle order so lets pick some in form players for once instead of waiting for the established stars to come to the party. Dropping Strauss seemed to work ? so out with Bell Colly Pieterson and Ambrose.

  • Comment number 54.

    England were unbelievably poor for 2.5 days. It was one session of madness from NZ which ultimately cost them. England fought well when things looked grim but that will not be enough against better test nations.

    Ambrose needs more chances to prove his batting is going to work in tests (at least the next 4 or 5 tests.) His glove work is far superior to Prior's, but Prior possibly makes up for that with the bat.

    England's bowling is far too lightweight. Unfortuntely you can't have a four man attack with a spinner who could get taken apart (like the first innings) and have both Anderson and Broad. Broad's batting is a major plus and is young, while Anderson tends to be far more expensive, meaning he can't bowl too many overs (ok in a 5 man attack, NOT in a 4). I'd therefore keep Broad in and drop Anderson. I'd like the selectors to consider not playing a spinner on seam friendly pitches, or consider Swann as an allrounder. Monty doesn't have to play every match - especially if he may only bowl a few overs.

    All the Batsmen need to score big. If they all fail in an innings then the middle order has to be questioned. Clearly the pressure is too much for them if they always collapse. Collingwood's form is very poor, and would probably be first in line to go, although Bell (he and Colly have yet to prove themselves when the going gets tough) and even Pietersen aren't too far behind.

    Who comes in for Anderson and Collingwood (should they be dropped - certainly Anderson), will need a reasonable spell in the side to settle. I really think England need a larger pool of players with positive test experience so we don't have to play people when they're out of form, or play those who should have run out of chances. Of course, no one will get dropped until we get whopped by SA later in the summer.

  • Comment number 55.

    Re #47: the first 24 letters of your post were the most accurate.

  • Comment number 56.

    Sorry Aggers, but this piece is much too negative for me. Yes England were very poor for the first half of the game, but the turnaround was brilliant, and they deserve a lot of credit.

    If Australia had pulled off something like this, the English media would be falling over themselves to praise the Aussie 'fighting spirit', will to win, and ultimate class in being able to turn potential defeat into great victory. Surely England deserve the same sort of plaudits?

  • Comment number 57.

    dropping Ambrose would be a terrible idea. We need to accept that not everyone is Adam Gilchrist and move on. Let him have a good run and we'll see after he's played 10/15 tests. The grass isn't always greener on the other side.

    i've always liked Anderson but he's too inconsistent for a 4 man attack. Hoggard is the obvious replacement so i think he'll come in for South Africa.

    Ian Bell has never scored the first hundred of an England test innings. That's a remarkable statistic and is something the selectors need to look at. i'd keep him for now in the belief that he will soon overcome this.

    Collingwood isn't fit, so let him rest and give Shah a go at 4 with Pietersen at 5 and Bell at 6.

    i think the pace attack does need a bit more oomph, Anderson has probably been picked for that but i'm not convinced. As for a replacement, Onions looks like the next cab off the rank so i'm sure he'll get a go soon.

    Also, i'm certain that not having cricket on terrestrial TV is causing harm to the game. I'd love more cricket coverage in the same way you can't move for football during most of the year

  • Comment number 58.

    The solution to he Paul Collingwood issue is to select the batsman who appears on the Brit adverts during the commercial breaks,he shows plenty of intent which from listening and watching over the last couple of days appears to be the in word

  • Comment number 59.

    Aggers: It is a bit strange, perhaps a bit vindictive even, to say "Strauss now appears to believe he has turned a corner".

    Strange and potentially vindictive because there is an intimation (i) that he has not turned a corner (e.g. not until he produces the goods against stiffer opposition), and (ii)that Strauss seems to think his mental state - rather than the objective goods of good performances - is the important thing.

    Is that what you meant to suggest? - If so, then I think Strauss should be defended: there is some evidence (perhaps not enough yet) that Strauss has turned a corner. That evidence is the runs he has made, and his own beliefs about his form do not affect the facts of these performances one way or the other ("walk not talk"). -- Give the guy the break he deserves! Strauss may not yet have conquered all his demons and/or convinced all his critics, but his performances certainly support the conclusion that he is on the right track!

  • Comment number 60.

    Just wondering about Mr Agnew hedging his bets in case Strauss fails next time...
    Suggesting that "Strauss now appears really to believe that he has turned a corner" is hardly showing faith in the batsman's own belief!

  • Comment number 61.

    On the cricket on terrestial TV thing.

    Highlights are totally unsatisfactory. All you ever see is fours and wickets.

    Could it not be arranged to televise a session a day live?

  • Comment number 62.

    Some of this stuff is simply nonsense.

    New Zealand didn't lose the game in one session of madness... they lost it over 4 days. End of.

    Yes, the collapse in their second innings was significant but it's not as if they were on top from ball 1.They had the better of the first innings' by a considerable margin but unless I'm mistaken test matches are played over two innings. New Zealand were inferior in both of the second innings and their deficit exceed that of England in the first innings'.

    New Zealand's inability to bowl England out was probably worse than their own 2nd innings peformance, given the pitch conditions and England's recent batting.

    Or maybe England just played better. Heaven forbid such an assertian!

    It's not rocket science.

    There is always room for improvement, especially with this England team; however, Australia managed to get themselves into a bit of bother against the West Indies and got out of it due to the performance of one or two key individuals. Sound familiar? No-one is suggesting that they are in crisis though (evolving? yes. But crisis? Come on!)

    What I fear most is a return to the bad old days of the late 80s and 90s when England had the revolving door selection policy ruined our national team for a long time.

    You need to have very good reasons to drop a player, and very good reasons to pick a replacement.

  • Comment number 63.

    Congrats to Andrew Strauss, where batted exceptionally well. I'm really pleased as, has previously been said, it was a disgrace that they saw fit to take the captaincy off him and hand it to Flintoff.

    I hope England gain confidence from this win, as our middle order is in desperate need of some. Peiterson looks like a different player, he should be left to play his natural game and others should 'weigh anchor' at the other end to allow him to do so.

    I would now like to christen Bell and Colly, 'Itchy and Scratchy', they both need to work on building an innings and their shot selection. Again, this comes with confidence, so lets hope they build some in the next test.

    Bowling wise, Monty, legend! Just let him bowl with more flight someone. Having watched him bowl on the last day at Lord's, the only time he looked like taking a wicket was when he tossed it up and the Kiwis went after him! Instead he kept firing it in. Unimaginative captaincy, i'm afraid. Too afraid to lose!

    I have concerns about Anderson, it has been said, but his consistency is poor, give Broad the new ball and bring Tremlett or Hoggard in, depending on pitch/weather. At least Broad can maintain a decent line!

    The Flintoff Question....... To play him as the 4th or 5th bowler? (When he's fit!) He is an exceptional bowler and England are poorer for his absence. My opinion on this is he must be played as the 5th bowler, allowing others to share the burden of bowling, until he is back to full fitness. Which then poses the other question is his batting good enough to steal the No.6 position? At present.................(PLEASE FILL IN BLANK AS MY BRAIN NOW HURTS!) This is a big quandry for the selectors. I'm only paid to train the groundstaff and not pick those to play on it!

    I'll finish there as I seem to have used up all my lunch hour ranting about this!

  • Comment number 64.

    Well done England! Look at it from a positive side, NZ were 229/1 in front, doesn't matter who you play, to come back from that position and win fairly easy means you must have some quality. Like someone already metioned before, let's say it was Australia who came back the way England did.
    Broad is an enthousiastic young player with potential and the right attitude, as long as Flintoff isn't fit he should be in the squad since you simply need valuable runs at the end once in a while. That 30 was a crucial knock and I thought he was a bit unlucky with the ball. The top 6 have already showed that they are all proper batsmen with healthy averages and furthermore are generally pretty good fielders as well. This time Strauss did the job for England, last time Vaughan scored a ton, next time it will be someone else.
    I would only like to see another top class strike bowler alongside Sidebottom, Hoggard on the top of his game has shown on numerous occasions he can rip apart the top order, something England definately needs against a team like SA. Also good to hear Simon Jones is apparantly on his way back, another cricketer who won't be too impressed facing Australia.

  • Comment number 65.

    15. At 6:46 pm on 26 May 2008, henrycowen wrote:

    "How on earth can anyone suggest dropping Ambrose? Geraint Jones had 34 tests to prove himself, Matt Prior had 10 but displayed he couldn't do one thing vital for keepers - catch. Ambrose has been keeping confidently and has averaged 25 after only 5 games, he needs at least the rest of the summer and preferably more to have a chance. Why is it that batsmen and bowlers can underperform on a regular basis, Strauss for 2 years prior to being dropped, Harmison for roughly the same period, yet keepers can have two bad games and all of a sudden they're rubbish. So fickle. "

    Very good point. I think it stems from other countries having wickies that seem to produce cracking innings when needed, McCullum, Dhoni and Gilchrist being such examples. I know every team in the world would love a wicket-keeper who can produce wonderful innings on a seemingly regular basis, but we've got to be realistic.

    Of course it can happen for England too, but chopping and changing isn't going to yield the intended results.

    I used to rate Geraint Jones a lot, he came in for a lot of slack after the Ashes win in '05, but he was a solid member of that winning team. However, his form took a turn for the worse (or at least it seemed like that, I don't have stats by me to back this claim up) and he needed to be replaced. Prior however seemed to get a lot of undeserved stick from my point of view, he produced some strong batting performances and was a good catcher the majority of the time. However for whatever reason he was dropped, perhaps a correct decision, I think that remains to be seen.

    I just hope that Ambrose is given a better chance, as he's produced two good batting performances out of five, and with an average of 25, that's not too shabby really.

    I think with a decent run in the side Ambrose could become a stable element in what is a consistently frail middle-order; which is unbeliveable seeing as we have a strong middle-order in my eyes, why does the middle-order seem to crumble so often?

    But, if the selectors feel fickle again shortly there are two wickies who are good enough for a shout again; Foster and Read.

  • Comment number 66.

    Oh, yes I nearly forgot to add...the sooner Simon Jones is back to his best, the sooner we can have arguably our strongest bowler from the Ashes series. He may not have taken the most wickets, but he is always a threat and we miss his reverse swing I feel.

  • Comment number 67.

    This is what I love about pundits - Agnew said Strauss was 'destined for the scrap heap' in March.

    No, 'I got it wrong'. No, 'I like many others was a bit quick to write him off'.

    If only these media boys were as good at journalism as they'd like England to be at cricket, we might get some decent, honest writing, rather than yet another bit of blog just dobbed on a length with hardly any effort.

    I've more confidence in Strauss to bat for England than I have Agnew to write for the BBC.

    'Spot on Aggers!'


  • Comment number 68.

    I would generally agree, but there was one possible key thing that you missed.

    The use of the heavy roller MUST have had an impact surely?

    16 wickets for 250 on Day 3 and yet barely anything in the wicket before lunch yesterday.

    Did Vettori use the heavy roller before NZ's 2nd Innings?

  • Comment number 69.

    It was a great fightback by the England side to dismiss New Zealand in two sessions and then chase down nearly 300 with 6 wickets in hand. Despite the fact that New Zealand don't have the best batting nor bowling line-up is only partially irrelevant: Vaughan demonstrated his tactical nous, once again, by taking advantage of the heavy roller. But, we are unlikely to find our way back from such situations against South Africa or Australia, and it is for that reason we must make changes for the rest of the summer.

    Ambrose so far has kept well behind the wicket and done OK with the bat. He though, shouldn't go. Prior had a run with the gloves even when he was seemingly dropping everything, and Geraint Jones was around for ages whilst dropping everything and unsure of which way up to hold the bat. Ambrose, like any other play in any other team, needs time to properly settle down. I fail to see how calling for his scalp every other day is actually going to enable him to get properly settled and gain the confidence he needs to do his job well.

    My gut instinct is to drop Bell in place of Ramprakash. It looks like a backward step, but Ramps has been the form county batsman for the last 2 or more years. Moreover, he's technically very good and I seem to recall he has a pretty good average against the Aussies. Conversely, Bell's average against the better teams is not that great, and prior to his 110 in the second innings at Napier, you have to go back 23 innings for a century (109* against WIndies at Lord's). Of those other innings he scored a half century 6 times, but otherwise has the terrible nack of playing himself in then finding ways of getting out.

    I would also keep Collingwood. He's a grafter of a player, but can lash out with sixes against the spinners, but again needs to find his confidence. He showed some of that towards the end of the Old Trafford test and I really hope he does find form. Moreover, his military medium dibbly-dobblers can be quite useful.

    As for the bowlers, I think Broad should stay. Anderson always leaves me in two minds but in some ways reminds me of how I felt about Simon Jones in 2003. At the time I thought Jones was too unpredicatable; that when he got it right he was awesome to watch, but when he got it wrong it was excruciating. Same with Anderson, who is capable of sending down absolute jaffers, that would leave even the mighty Ponting groping at air. But Simon Jones turned out to be a match winner with awesome accuracy and consistency in the 2005 Ashes series - perhaps Anderson, who lest we forget, has been mucked about quite a lot, can find a little bit of consistency with an extended run in the side. But again, like with Ambrose, we need to support Anderson and focus on the fact he can be devastating and unplayable.

    So anyway, I thought on the whole it was a good win for England and should provide some inspiration and a confidence boost. But changes need to be planned out and not gone into hastily. This bowling attack is quite young and they're still learning to work as a unit. It is the batting that worries me the most and needs to be looked at carefully.

  • Comment number 70.

    Cricketing_stargazer (#40) - I wasn't wanting for Vaughan to "roundly condemn" the team, just for a bit of honesty that they were second best for much of the match. Sure, celebrate the good stuff, but be sufficiently self-aware that you can work on the mistakes too. As the saying goes, the amateur practises until they get it right, the professional practises until they never get it wrong. To be fair, the current England batting coaches seem to be really emphasising the avoidance of mistakes, nowhere is it more obvious than in Strauss' batting, that innings was all about ticking along whilst giving no room for getting out. If you're still in after 2 hours, the runs will come. KP used to get out in silly ways after a crowd-pleasing 50 rather than accumulating a match-winning century, he made a lot of progress in that respect but now seems to have lost the plot a bit - whether it's confidence, distractions or just not being good enough now the bowlers have worked him out, I'm not sure.

    I couldn't disagree more with Ozzie_Stan about "fossilising" the team - that's the sort of logic that makes it impossible for the Sidebottoms to break into the team until we have a complete injury crisis, and you have to blood new players when we're 2-0 down against the Aussies or something. You only have to look at the attrition rate of modern cricket on England's bowlers to see that the modern game demands a squad approach. Leaving that aside, all the best teams have healthy competition for places, we shouldn't be indulging players by letting them find their form in the Test team. It was always the danger with central contracts that players would get too comfortable, if they're worried about Joe Bloggs taking their place then they might spend that extra hour in the nets rather than in a pedalo.

    We should be looking to create a pool of about 12 bowlers that have Test experience. 4 will be either injured or so out of form that they are off the radar. Three will be spinners competing for one, and a tactical second spinner spot, and five seamers competing for three spots. At the moment the only competition is for the physio table. And you won't get that competition unless you give enough young guys some experience in Tests, and this next match is a unique opportunity to do so. We have a strange schedule over the next two years, the Champions Trophy and World T20 mean that there are only 9 more Tests before the 2009 Ashes, and then we tour SA and Pakistan, so a home match against the Kiwis is the best opportunity to give someone their Test debut until summer 2010.

    I'd love someone to tell Sidebottom "You've been arguably our best player in the last year, but you played 14 Tests in that time, you're over 30 and we need you to be raring to go in the big series against the Saffers. So take a week off, put your feet up, spend some time with the family. Maybe keep yourself loose with a one-day game, I'm sure your home fans and the Notts commercial department would love to see your face." But England cricket doesn't think like that, they'd much rather stretch their best bowlers to breaking point and beyond. And we know what Hoggy and Fred can do, let's bring someone else into the mix whilst we let the established names prove their fitness.

    On the batting front, I might give Shah another chance if he was 24, but he's too old now, we should be looking for people who can play for England in the 2013 Ashes and beyond - and to be honest Shah doesn't look Test class from what I've seen of him. Looking around the Lions tour of India ( Hildreth and Denly are obvious contenders on the batting front, particularly after what could be the knock of the year at Tunbridge Wells the other day. Just don't mention the first innings. :-) And both Carberry and Luke Wright have scored centuries against the Kiwis this year, which is more than some England batsmen... Wright has bowled more overs against them in one innings than Colly has in three, if you think "bowls a bit" is important. I've not seen enough of all of them to compare the four, but they must be in the mix, particularly if we're trying to build up the Lions as a stepping stone to the Test team.

    On Ambrose, I think he should be told that he is safe for 5 matches, then there's a review halfway through the SA series. I'm definitely a fan of wicketkeepers who bat a bit rather than batsmen who keep a bit, but I fear priorities may be skewed by the amount of ODI/T20 games in the next 14 months. Which will then leave us looking a bit stupid when we suddenly have to play proper cricket again, and find we're up against the Aussies. I reckon we've got time to give one more keeper a proper run before the Ashes, hence reviewing the situation before the end of the SA series.

    One thing I forgot to mention in the previous rant - I really like seeing the closeup of the pitch on the big screen before start of play, can we have that before every session please?

    And Aggers, you mentioned Leics getting nothing for nurturing Stuart Broad. Could not some of the central payments be used as "reward" for the counties that fostered current England players between the ages of say 17 and 22? And I'd change the anti-Kolpak payments to reward games played by England-qualified players under 26, English "old lags" who are never going to play for England are as much a problem for young players as Kolpak players. Both Carberry and Denly were kept out of first class cricket by the likes of David Fulton, who was a great county player, but never quite the same after his accident. I'd also tweak things to make a small number of young Windies, Zim and Kenyan players honorary Englishmen for the purposes of those payments, we have a duty to encourage cricket in those places whereas the Saffers don't need our help. I'm sure Duckworth and Lewis could come up with a suitably Byzantine formula!

  • Comment number 71.

    123ming, England didn't get out of jail, they fought back. That is the beauty of the game and why it is in my opinion, the best game in the world.

  • Comment number 72.

    'They fought back'?! Was there a parallel test match going on in Cloudcuckooland? Kudos to Strauss and Panesar but NZ were guilty of perhaps the most horrendous throwing away of an advantage ever seen in a test match! England seriously need to buck up else Australia will be dishing out another 5-0 hiding in a year's time. It would be WISE if changes were made now to the team rather than midway through a disastrous Ashes campaign. S A are still flaky in my mind and we have chance against them even with the team we have - especially with Pietersen likely to be fired up by them.

  • Comment number 73.

    I note a numer of comments regarding the so called folly of playing test cricket at Cardiff. It should be noted that Glamorgan are doing more for English cricket than any other county. Glam play with a minimum of 10 players eligible for England. Last week Glam were bowled out by 4 S african players against Nothants. In addition our contribution to English cricket through administration/coaching David Morgan, Hugh Morris, Duncan Fletcher, dean Conway and Matthew Maynard is unrivalled.
    Some have questioned the ability of Cardiff to cope with 18,000 fans. After hosting FA Cup final, League cup final, Charity Shield for 6 years, Britsh rally for many years, Rugby World Cup final, biggest boxing events in Europe, International football, Rock concerts by Stones, Madonna. REM, U2, Eagles Stereophonics etc with audiences of 70,000 plus I think we can manage 18,000. Old trafford have not invested test match receipts in their ground and paid the penalty. Unfortunately we have to put up with the assault of atherton with the dirty pocket who barely condescended at his beloved ground for his county.

  • Comment number 74.


    Something to do with the point about England players. Well, I do see people's points, but then the Counties also do have an obligation to their membership who are split between producing players for England and between success for the County.

    Also that is a condundrum...for example we at Gloucestershire ususally play with 7 Engl;and qualified players but most of them aren't quite good enough to make the step up or are not youthful perse? You couldn't really put them in the same boat as Northants and other major koplak counties for funding. Usually, injury permitting play with 6 or 7 bare minimum Englih players, sometimes 8. And Spearman, although not English is in fact eligible now, so it is certainly a conundrum.

  • Comment number 75.

    Honestly the number of England qualified players each county has is almost irrelevent.

    A county with 11 englishmen is providing nothing for the national team if they are all the wrong side of 3 and nothing more than good county players.

    What we should be encouraging is youth and quality, not quantity. To that aim I would force all county sides to play 3 English qualified under 23s and a total of 6 who are either under 27s or current england squad players. That number is higher than most counties currently play on a regular basis.

    After that let them do what they want with the other five places, if they want to sign five internationals then so be it, a team with 5 internationals and 6 good young english players if sar better than one of 11 english journeymen.

  • Comment number 76.

    cricketlovelycricket, You are right it is a lovely game but i stand by my comment England got out of jail due to a weak NZ second innings and the selectors should not allow that to paper over the cracks. Lets be proactive for once and try to imporve a winning side. If indeed that is what we are

  • Comment number 77.


    Are McCullum's w-k gloves illegal? They appear to have a pouch between thumb and forefinger, which is where he caught Monty in the 1st innings at Old Trafford.

  • Comment number 78.

    Paul Collingwood Is RUBBISH.
    Always has been, always will be.
    One double hundred?. sorry that means nothing. Dizzy Gillespie, a tailender got 1.
    Collingwood has a poor bottom handed technique in comparison to the other bats in the side, bowls pies and as far as i am concerend is only in the side because he can catch pigeons.
    Gritty. Determined. Bull really. Mindset alone isnt enough to play for england, class is needed in the test team. Look at the bats we have around the counties, Bopara (failed in SL but looks the business this season) Wright (Dasher, more of a bowler than Colly) Ramps, Shah, or even if you want a bowling all rounder, Trego of somerset. Also think of the next generation, watching Colly bat, probably makes them want to run and grab the nearest football.

    Get rid of this joker, keep Bell, a class player, keep ambrose for now, hes a good keeper (even though im for read) and keep Broady.

  • Comment number 79.

    Narrowboat Dave:
    "Anderson should go - he is just a tail end bully - I think I'm right in saying his wickets are generally lower end batsmen. He is inconsistent and expensive".
    You think you're right but obviously you didn't check. Anderson has 80 test wickets, of which 28 are top order, 28 middle order and 24 lower order.

    As an opening bowler his speciality is dismissing one of the opening batsmen, often within his first 3 or 4 overs.

    Here are just some of the batsmen he has dismissed: Tendulkar 4 times, Gibbs 3 times, G. Smith, Ganguly, Kallis, Lara, Gayle, Sangakkara, Sehwag, Langer, Gilchrist, Hussey, Dhoni.

    As for getting out the tail: with England's record of being unable to knock over the tail, it's good that we have someone who can do that as well as taking the top order wickets, isn't it?

  • Comment number 80.

    Aggers, your comments are always interesting and I usually agree with them. But the success of your blog is that so many people feel it worthwhile to enter the debate. I believe I am number 80 and more than one has devoted a lot of time to putting forward his views at length.

    It would be churlish to take anything from England's victory and the stunning turn-around they achieved. But it must be kept in perspective. They should never have got into the hole that made such a turn-around necessary. I am delighted to see Strauss show, after a long time, that he could again be one of England's openers for a long time to come. We sorely need someone like that. And Panessar took full advantage of conditions that suited him, which was great. Both of them deserve congratulations.

    Few others, especially among the batsmen, did more than should be expected of them. New Zealand are a plucky young team, punching above their weight and doing a great job, but they are not Australia or South Africa. With the exception of Cook and Strauss, no other batsman should regard his place in the team as guaranteed, yet there is precious little talk about who could replace them. There is much more debate about the seam attack and the other options but I can't believe that there are no similar alternative options on the batting front. Are the batsmen not under any pressure from promising youngsters? It would seem like that and that is sad, because it is the batsmen that win games.

    It is traditionally regarded as a "good thing" to be able to keep an unchanged team but maybe we shouldn't be doing that, but rather giving opportunities to new players. We should be able to do that against NZ because we won't be able to do it against SAfrica or Australia.

  • Comment number 81.


    I think you're being a bit unfair there. Public transport-wise, Cardiff is a fantastic city, and Sophia Gardens is within easy walking distance of the city centre.

    Why shouldn't we be given the opportunity to see Test cricket up close? How are we supposed to attract Welsh people to the one of the only sports in which England and Wales compete as one if they never play in Wales?

    Your comments mark you out as a bit of a snob in that regard, it almost seems that you would rather England don't gain any more supporters so long as you're allowed to keep your comfy chair at Old Trafford - I hope I'm mistaken in this.

    As for the gentleman who commented that Welsh people would not turn out to support an English team - it's not an English team, it's an English and Welsh team. The nationality of the players at any one time is irrelevant (in football, John Hartson and Vinnie Jones are about as Welsh as Park Ji Sung), the fact is that it is our team too, and those of us who can't afford to travel to Manchester or London to see Test cricket would be absolutely thrilled at the chance to. The xenophobic actions of some Welshmen give all of us a bad name, but the arrogance of English folk such as yourself only serves to fan the flames. Next time, think carefully before pigeonholing an entire nation and deciding what we would and wouldn't like to see.

  • Comment number 82.

    Congratulations to England. In innings three and four the home side did extremely well to nullify the advantages gained by NZ in innings One and Two. Spinner Monty is growing in experience. Hats off to the hard working England bowler.

  • Comment number 83.


    you say
    'Some of this stuff is simply nonsense.
    New Zealand didn't lose the game in one session of madness... they lost it over 4 days. End of.'

    Well, yes, the end result is decided by the entire match, that's a given - we're trying to be a little more critical and analyise the match a bit more in this comment section. The point i was making was that NZ were well on top for the first 2.5 days and let England back in by batting poorly in their second innings. You see, it's my 'opinion', that had NZ scored another 100 (so 400 to win) in the 2nd then they would have set a total that England would, in all likelihood would have felt was beyond them and as a result lost to NZ. I think that if NZ had batted with a little more application and focus they could have achieved the 400 lead that i believe would have ultimately won them the game. Cricket is a game which is capable of turning around quickly, and it's important to stay focused for the entire match or you let teams off, by not ramming home an advantage - that's what happened here.

  • Comment number 84.

    Dear Aggers,

    I listened to your comments about Strauss during the recent test match and thought you were a bit hard on the bloke. Basically, you said his batting wasn't very enterprising.

    1. There was match to win and England won it.

    2. What would you have said if he'd got out cheaply by playing more shots?

    Now you're at it again: "Strauss now appears really to believe...." etc. "IE I'm not so sure."

    I'm sure when you were playing you were always on top of your game, but, purlease, leave the poor guy alone.

  • Comment number 85.

    Well strauss has managed to convince me and a just a few months ago i was one of the many people who couldn't understand why his was still in the team.

    Not convinced by our bowling attack.

    Our middle order looks shocking at the minute. Hopefully that's just a blip

    Derek Hosewood of Homeowner Loans


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