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Archives for July 2009

Misfiring Australia consider their options

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Oliver Brett | 10:51 UK time, Thursday, 23 July 2009

Kevin Pietersen's series-ending Achilles operation may have redressed the balance a little, but it is Australia who go into the third Ashes Test at Edgbaston needing to find a method of landing a counter-punch after going 1-0 down in the series.

Whether that method includes making changes to their line-up will be one of the most fascinating tableaus between now and 30 July, when Ricky Ponting and Andrew Strauss swap their team-sheets at the toss.

Besides naming Pietersen's replacement, most probably Ian Bell, and possibly recalling Steve Harmison for Graham Onions, England's position is straightforward, with Andrew Flintoff hopefully fit enough to play.

Australia, on the other hand, have a problem with a bowling attack that has failed to take 20 wickets in either concluded Test and looked a man light at times (there are four of them to England's five).

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Flintoff - England's gladiator supreme

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Oliver Brett | 15:06 UK time, Monday, 20 July 2009

It was not the moment when England actually won the second Test against Australia that will stick longest in the memory.

When Andrew Flintoff - surely bowling as well as any man has at Lord's - picked up the ninth wicket of the Australian innings, he dropped to one knee, and with his arms outstretched held the pose as he faced the spectators in the Mound and Tavern Stands.

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75 years of hurt are ended

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Adam Mountford | 14:02 UK time, Monday, 20 July 2009

When England last beat Australia in an Ashes Test at Lord's the world population was 2.2 billion. It is now 6.7 billion, the land speed record was 272mph, now it's 764mph and the average house price was £515 pounds , now it is £189,000.

That information came via the Test Match Special scorer Malcolm Ashton when Australia were five wickets down on Sunday afternoon - at that point it seemed it was only a matter of time before history was made.

But I'll be honest, I had a sick feeling in my stomach when I arrived in the TMS box on Monday morning - fearing that maybe, against all the odds, it might be Australia instead who would be rewriting the cricket record books.

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Second Ashes Test - player ratings

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Oliver Brett | 13:11 UK time, Monday, 20 July 2009

These are my ratings for the 22 men who played in the second Ashes Test at Lord's, as England completed a rare win over Australia in a memorable Test at the home of cricket.

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Bopara in need of an Ashes score

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Oliver Brett | 19:30 UK time, Saturday, 18 July 2009

The weekend before the Ashes began, Ravi Bopara gave a fascinating first-person account of how he felt going into the biggest Test series of his career to date.

Explaining how he was unimpressed by Australians, past or present, trying to intimidate England's players through words alone, Bopara said: "Whether the words are from Shane Warne or whoever, how are they supposed to hurt me?

"Is he trying to intimidate or put pressure on me? Pressure? Pressure is when you've got a knife in your face and someone says, 'Give me what you've got'."

He went on to explain how exactly that had happened to him when he was 12 years old, growing up in the mean streets of east London.

That kind of anecdote might explain why he often wears a carefree expression as he marches out to bat, whatever the situation, and why he betrays so little emotion in general on a cricket field.

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Aussies collapse to revitalised England

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Oliver Brett | 19:45 UK time, Friday, 17 July 2009

Watching England bat is a perilous occupation at the best of times. On how many occasions have seemingly impregnable positions been frittered away with hideous, stunningly awful collapses that transform the other side from apparent underdogs to overwhelming favourites?

How glorious it is to report, then, that the boot was most certainly on the other foot on Friday at Lord's - when the final session was played under slate-grey skies that are usually a recipe for depression on an English summer's day.

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Brilliant Strauss leads from the front

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Oliver Brett | 19:45 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009

The 1980s seem to be in vogue pretty much wherever you go. Today's teenagers wear the quirky clothes, exuberant hairdos and wacky eye make-up of 25 years ago and if you had been at Turnberry on Thursday you would have seen Tom Watson, who won The Open three times that decade, roll back the years in splendid fashion.

Meanwhile here at Lord's, the home side produced the type of dominant batting display we were accustomed to seeing from 80s stars Botham, Gower and Broad all those years ago when England won back-to-back Ashes series.

The only snag was that it only lasted for half a day, and from a tremendous high of 196-0, they lost their way in ungainly fashion and ended up with 364-6 - the kind of score which may yet prove a good one or may simply be not enough.

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Thank you, Prime Minister

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 18:12 UK time, Thursday, 16 July 2009

From: the Ashes 'Ball'
To: The Prime Minister, the Rt Honourable Gordon Brown MP

Dear Prime Minister,

Thank you so much for hosting the England women's cricket team, their guests, the World Cup, the World Twenty20 trophy and myself to a reception at Downing Street to celebrate their recent triumphs.

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Injuries take their toll on England's lionheart

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Anna Thompson - BBC Sport journalist | 16:19 UK time, Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Andrew Flintoff's announcement he would be retiring from Test cricket was about as shocking as Cristiano Ronaldo's summer move from Manchester United to Real Madrid in its timing.

At the age of 31, England's talismanic all-rounder has had to admit his injury-ravaged body cannot stand up to the rigours of the five-day game and, if he wanted to continue playing the sport he loved at the highest level, he had to make a harsh decision.

He has opted for the shorter form of the game, one-day internationals and Twenty20 matches in the lucrative Indian Premier League once this Ashes series has finished.

Flintoff believes he could continue playing for England for the next four years and beyond, if his body lets him.

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Another incomparable Ashes Test

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Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 20:08 UK time, Sunday, 12 July 2009

What is it about these Ashes Test matches?

As I left the hotel in Cardiff on Sunday morning I joked to some of my colleagues that what the series needed was England's last pair hanging on for a dramatic draw. No straightforward saving of the game I said, because who would remember that?

The last pair scenario certainly didn't look at all possible for most of the day as wickets fell with regularity, but thanks to a heroic innings from Paul Collingwood and the desperate efforts of James Anderson and Monty Panesar England somehow held on to give Cardiff the memorable debut Test match they must have dreamed off.

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England's women eye Ashes treble

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Alison Mitchell Alison Mitchell | 14:17 UK time, Thursday, 9 July 2009

While the Ashes series has been getting underway in Cardiff, England's women have been preparing for their own one-off Test against Australia starting at New Road on Friday.

Retaining the women's Ashes would cap off a remarkable five months after Charlotte Edwards' side were crowned world champions in both the 50 and 20-over form of the game.

The relevance of Test cricket in the women's game though has waned in the last few years as England and Australia are the only countries to play the four-day format.

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Reliving cricket's greatest rivalry

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Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 17:14 UK time, Tuesday, 7 July 2009

With the 2009 Ashes almost upon us we are all wondering what great moments of cricket history are going to be created over the next seven weeks.

Cricket's greatest rivalry always seems to bring about something special - and if you'd like to relive some of those magical moments well now you can with the launch of the "Test Match Special Ashes Archive."

If you log onto www.bbc.co.uk/ashesarchive you can find moments stretching back to the infamous Bodyline tour of 1932/33. As well as great commentary the archive will also include some classic TMS moments from Arlott to Aggers as well as memories from the current Test Match Special team.

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A nation holds its breath for Flintoff

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Oliver Brett | 06:14 UK time, Saturday, 4 July 2009

Nobody can appreciate the massive emotional gulf between success in an Ashes series to failure in another quite as well as Andrew Flintoff.
Man of the series and national hero when the Ashes finally came home in 2005, he was captain of a ship that sank to a 5-0 defeat barely a year later.

Pictures of Freddie the happy match-winner had been splashed liberally across the tabloids during that glorious summer; but in 2006-7 the look of pure anguish he wore as his team spiralled to a horrible defeat in Adelaide provided one of the most haunting images of the series.

That he starts this current campaign somewhere approaching full fitness is a massive stroke of luck given the amount of cricket Flintoff has lost to injury.

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TMS ready for magical Ashes

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Adam Mountford Adam Mountford | 17:14 UK time, Thursday, 2 July 2009

Whether it was listening to Botham's exploits at the back of the classroom during the summer of 1981, celebrating Gower's glorious run-scoring feats while at scout camp in 1985, hiding my radio under the bedclothes as Gladstone Small took the winning catch in 1987, prematurely singing "Ashes Coming Home" on the outfield at Edgbaston in 1997 or chewing my finger nails at The Oval in 2005, most of my best cricket memories have come during series involving cricket's greatest rivals, England and Australia.

There are some fantastic cricket contests played around the world but for some reason the Ashes always seems to be the most magical and the 2009 vintage promises to be something special again partly because the outcome is so difficult to predict.

We may be without some of the game's legends after the retirement of the likes of Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and most recently Michael Vaughan - but there is plenty of fascination to see how the new breed perform.

How will the new Aussie wonder kid Philip Hughes do? Can Ravi Bopara repeat his recent great form against the old enemy? Will it be Swann and Panesar trying to spin England to victory?

Then of course, the unpredictable nature of this series is given an extra twist with the opening match played at a brand new Test venue in Cardiff.

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