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How England fought back

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Tom Fordyce | 08:47 UK time, Sunday, 28 November 2010

The Gabba, Brisbane

What a Test match this is turning out to be, and what a series it promises to become.

Sunday might have been the day England capitulated - worn down by the travails of the first three days, 221 runs in arrears on first innings, the Australians clambering all over yet another Gabba win.

But nothing in this gripping contest has gone to the established script. A bowler considered lucky to be selected takes six wickets on his birthday. A batsman horribly out of form and on the point of being dropped smashes 195. A team seemingly teetering on the brink of defeat fights back in such startling fashion that suddenly they are the ones with momentum and mojos working.

Andrew Strauss went from first innings duck to swashbuckling century. Alastair Cook - Ashes average of 26 from 19 innings going into this match - hit an unbeaten 132 to add to his 67 on Thursday.

Between them they put on the biggest English partnership in history at this famous old ground in Brisbane, only the second time in 20 years that both of England's openers have hit centuries in the same Test innings.

When Strauss fell for 110, Jonathan Trott came in and added an unflustered 54 of his own, constructing an unbeaten partnership of 119 in the process. The last time the first two England wickets both put on century partnerships in an Ashes Test? The Adelaide Test in 1986 (Athey and Broad, Broad and Gatting). And we all know who won that series.

How did England's batsmen manage to produce such a remarkable turnaround?

Michael Slater hit seven centuries and averaged 45 as an opener in four successful Ashes campaigns, and he is at the Gabba as an expert summariser for Test Match Special.

"It can be so difficult as an opener in this scenario - sometimes you can feel like you've got more to lose than gain," he says. "The first thing that helped England was the quick turnover between innings that they had (the last five Australian first innings wickets went down for 31). That can be easier than having to think about it for hours; you can just get on with it.

Strauss and Cook put on 188 runs for the first wicket

"But the key was the 45 minute session that Strauss and Cook survived on Saturday night. That sort of session really sets you up for the next day. Mentally you've slipped into gear."

As a Test batsman, how do you deal with being mired in such a dangerous situation?

"On the morning before a day like today you need to get yourself in the nets before play starts and have a really good hit. You want to get the bowlers to make it as real as possible, so you're ready to go.

"You then need to go back to the dressing-room and have a little quiet time, just to focus. But you don't want to sit there for too long. Some openers even like to be distracted, so they're not dwelling on the task too much.

"When you walk out to the crease the adrenaline is really going through you. You're often feeling highly emotive, but you make that work for you. Turn that feeling into positive nerves.

"Every sense feels heightened, but I enjoyed that. It made me move my feet much more quickly and get into the right position. You keep talking to yourself too, reminding yourself that all you need to worry about is the single ball you are about to face."

With England so many runs behind at the start of play, and facing a gargantuan eight hours to bat through to make the game safe, many of their supporters around the ground were struggling to see a way out.

"You break those big periods and deficits into smaller blocks," explains Slater. "You might think about getting through four overs, or taking the total from 85 to 100, and then on to 125, or just getting through the spell of a bowler who's really making you struggle.

"Positive intent is very important. You cannot let the fielding side have all the momentum. I always told myself that you have a bat in your hand for one reason, which is to score runs. Put the pressure back on the bowler. England did that very well today."

Throughout both England partnerships, both batsman were in constant conversation, touching gloves after every boundary and driving each other on.

"It can be very intimidating out there - you can feel very alone. That bond between you and bloke at the other end is crucial. It's imperative that you work as a partnership.

"The hardest thing of all is not becoming mentally exhausted. It's a much bigger danger than physical tiredness. Unless you're somewhere like Sri Lanka, you shouldn't struggle on that score.

"It's impossible to concentrate 100% for an entire session, let alone a whole day, so your routine between deliveries becomes critical.

"As soon as the ball is bowled you take a wander, clear your mind, look at something in the crowd - anything to distract yourself. Only when the bowler reaches the back of his run-up do you switch it on again. Then you gradually turn it up as he comes in until you're really full on as he's in his delivery stride."

When Strauss was finally out, skipping down the pitch to the part-time tweak of Marcus North to be stumped by a stride, he was furious with himself - trudging off at the pace of a man towing a sightscreen, clouting his pads with his bat.

While the shot was misjudged, the innings was not. Having been dreadfully close to being lbw to Hilfenhaus to his very first ball of his second innings to begin the series with a pair, he counter-punched magnificently.

In doing so he became the seventh Englishman in Test history to score a duck and a hundred in the same match. He was also the last - following a quacker in Napier three years ago with 177 in the second innings.

With 19 Test centuries, he goes level with Len Hutton in the list of all-time England centurions, one behind Ken Barrington and Graham Gooch and three behind Colin Cowdrey, Geoff Boycott and Wally Hammond.

He has an excellent chance of going on to top the lot. For now, matching Sir Leonard's statistics will do nicely. As England skipper, Sir Leonard won the Ashes home and away.

Cook is setting a few tasty records of his own. Like his fellow left-hander Mike Hussey he came into this match under fire and scrutiny, his technique pulled apart by sages and sofa scrutineers alike.

He will leave it having notched 14 Test centuries before his 26th birthday, more than any other batsman in history except Sachin Tendulkar and Don Bradman ahead. He has already scored more Test runs than both Ted Dexter and Peter May.

If Cook strode off the Gabba outfield the happiest man in the ground, Mitchell Johnson was the most miserable.

On a day when the entire Aussie attack was made to look as penetrating as a custard cutlass, Melancholy Mitchell went wicketless again. His match figures now read 0-119. With the bat he fell for a duck. In the field he missed a run-out chance against Cook and then spilled a straightforward catch off Strauss when the skipper had scored just 69.

Monday will probably bring a draw. Australia shouldn't win from here. England surely can't. But in this see-saw match, who can rule anything out?


Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    Completely ridiculous negativity- Cook also played well first innings when the pitch was far from "dead", even if it is now.
    As for your recommended changes: how you can consider dropping Finn after 6-125 is beyond me, especially with Bresnan the best of the rest.
    Morgan is not ready for a series of this intensity, and what has Swann done to be dropped other than have 1 game below his normally excellent standards?!

  • Comment number 3.

    What we seem to be seeing here is England playing like Australia always have done. Nothing much went right in the first three days, yet the team didn't lie down and die.

    England ought really to get out of this with a draw now, but it will seem like a moral defeat to the Aussies and give England the psychological momentum going into the next game.

    It's good to see that recently-found English resilience can also be conjured up in such a high-pressure context.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why are you so damned negative with every post you leave? Have you ever opened for England in a test match? No? Neither have I! You are completely underestimating the mental strength needed to go out there and perform with a large deficit, and knowing history is against you on a ground where Australia lose so rarely. Swann has had one bad innings with the ball, he isn't the first player in the match to struggle a bit with the right length so give the guy a break. Why on earth you think Finn should be dropped just shows you appear to have no idea what you are talking about.

    Try and find something good to say for once, go on, I dare you.

  • Comment number 5.


    I really doubt you have any clue what you're talking about. Finn takes 6 wickets and you want him dropped? Swann has 1 or 2 mediocre spells and you think the number 1 spinner in the world isnt worthy of a place in the team? That is completely over the top. Its a flat pitch, not doing much and you expect a constant stream of Aussie wickets falling? And saying we should drop Collingwood (the best fielder in the world) shows you really need to get real here. England will bat out the draw here and well played to Strauss and Cook for getting us out of jail here and lets look forward to the 2nd test.

  • Comment number 6.

    England score over 300 for one wicket in a good display of batting, and yet the first comment is a negative one. Typical English spirit there. Yes, the wicket was flat and easy to bat on but the shots still needed to be executed and played, and the three lads who played yesterday still managed to do that. Even on such a flat wicket the Australians should have done better, and should be more worried than us that their only wicket yesterday came from a part-timer, not one of their specialised bowlers or even shane watson.
    Our bowling attack also performed well, if it wasn't the stand of over three hundred between Hussey and Haddin, the rest of their wickets fell for around 170 runs. And both of them were lucky to stay in after such a brilliant hours bowling on saturday morning, when Anderson in particular was unlucky to take a wicket.
    This match should be drawn tomorrow before we head to Adelaide, and England can take some positives from this match going into that, while australia will be worried that their best bowler Johnson has struggled so much.
    Lest we not forget also that England fought back from a losing position in Cardiff two years ago to snatch a draw and we never looked back. Here's hoping the same will occur here.

  • Comment number 7.


    Papashango is a troll and a particularly foolish one at that. Ignore it, don't give it the audience it wants.

    I hope this Test will be drawn. Declaration? Never! Bat for three sessions. Let's get Cook to a double century, Trott to a ton, and give Pietersen and Collingwood time in the middle on a flat wicket to get some runs under their belt. Neither side knew what this wicket would do as it wasn't a typical Gabba wicket and so emerging with a draw after being under the cosh for so much of this match is a huge result.

    What has been apparent is that small margins are the difference between success and failure. Hussey's edge on the first ball, Strauss close to LBW second innings... those small margins make for absorbing cricket. Give me that over any number of 20 over run chases.

  • Comment number 8.

    papa_shango post #1, I see your point. Sort of. But it's not even 'glass half empty', it's glass totally empty.
    Cook has had no form for ages so to make 200 runs in his 2 innings (and he's still batting) is top class. The sort of performance that can change a series. Dead pitch, maybe. But Ponting made 10 on it, and in fact 9 of the Aussies players made low scores. And under that pressure, you can't dismiss Cook's innings that way. It might just be waht he needs and (if we do draw) then he has saved it for us.
    As for whether he will be dropped, and your other suggested changes. My view is that our 2005 win was due in part to sticking with players. To a lesser extent that was true in 2009. Bell was average in 05 but did make a couple of half centuries. Broad was average last time but finished the series well. And even if they did drop Cook, who's going to come in?
    Swann may have bowled poorly but he still took 2 wickets - as many as Doherty and I would pick him over Panesar any day. He can bat and field, and will still be a factor in the series I feel.
    Collingwood has a history of coming good after a bad streak and he may do so again. That said, I wouldn't mind seeing Morgan although "Colin Wood" has lots of experience which could be vital.
    And why drop Finn when he's just taken 6 wickets? That doesn't make sense to me at all.

  • Comment number 9.

    The cornerstone of our Ashes wins in 2005 and 2009 were based on fighting back to draw (or win) matches we were looking set to lose. It's been very good to see that determination finally shine through after 3 days of Australia with their foot on our throats.

    I agree with Vaughan - notwithstanding loss of wickets, just keep on batting throughout until there isn't enough time for the Aussies to win, then put them in anything for 20-30 overs to try to score a few more psychological points by taking a few wickets.

    Obviously, DON'T flail around and get out cheaply tomorrow morning...

  • Comment number 10.

    OK, having read posts 2-7 I think I was being overly kind to papa_shango!!!

  • Comment number 11.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 12.

    MJ was a mess last night, not seen an Aussie player look so vulnerable in 20 years, especially in their own back yard.

  • Comment number 13.

    45 overs to put up a score, then 45 overs to have a go at them. Come on Straussie!!!!! They are there for the taking, lets start the series off with a bang!

  • Comment number 14.

    Excellent fightback from Strauss, Cook and Trott. We still need to bat for 2 more sessions to make sure the game is safe but it would be nice to see us have a bowl at the Aussies for atleast 25 overs or so. It would be good to give them a bit of a fright by getting them 4 or 5 down and will give us a lot of momentum going into the Adelaide test. I can't see us getting all 10 wickets in a session though, so unfortunately a win is all but ruled out.

    All in all, i think we've done OK in this test. If it wasn't for the poor decision from Aleem Dar for the Hussey lbw, we could have been looking at a 200+ lead for England going into the final day. Unfortunately that will cost us the win but we should still feel very confident of winning the series if we come away with a draw in this test.

    The Aussie pace attack looks very weak apart from a great Siddle spell in the first innings and most of their batsmen don't look to be in that good a touch. Anderson, Finn and Broad looked decent, we did have Aus 143-5 and then took the last 5 wickets for 31, hopefully the Hussey/Haddin partnership doesn't knock their confidence because i think they're bowling well and were quite unlucky. Swann is a bit of a concern, we need him to bowling well if we are to win the series. Most of our batsmen look OK with the exception of Collingwood and Prior.

    Having said all of that, it's only been 4 days of the first Ashes test and as shown already, the form book for most players can pretty much be thrown out of the window when it comes to a series of this magnitude. A very intriguing first 4 days, so let's hope it continues.

  • Comment number 15.


    Papa_shango has a history of ludicrous gibberish on sports :)

    Cook deserves credit and one day he'll actually get it. Many forget how young he still is. Michael Clarke is 29, nearly four years older than Cook, yet only 4 Tests ahead if Cook (64 versus 60 excluding this Test). A huge amount of 606 armchair pundits would love to see Trescothick back for England but Cook already has two more centuries against Australia than Trescothick managed. He isn't someone who dominates with the bat, and I wonder if part of the criticism comes because people don't see him going out to attack a la Tresco and even Strauss in more recent times. Either way, the guy's scored four centuries this calender year, runs in both innings of this match, and played a major part in giving us a chance to secure a draw in this game.

  • Comment number 16.

    Note to self: ignore posters who name themselves after fat WWF wrestlers.

  • Comment number 17.

    #1 papa_shango.

    I can only assume you are an Aussie looking at ways to weaken the team to give you a chance of winning back the ashes !

    Or perhaps Scottish and part of the ABE (Anyone but England) brigade!

    What you are definitely not though is a knowledgeable cricket fan !

    PS Well done Strauss, Cooky and Trott. A brilliant response.

  • Comment number 18.

    6. At 12:11pm on 28 Nov 2010, LeeTUFC wrote:
    England score over 300 for one wicket in a good display of batting, and yet the first comment is a negative one. Typical English spirit there.


    I disagree. The typical English spirit is that exhibited by every other poster telling Papa_Shango what a fool he is.

  • Comment number 19.

    notch up a further 250 before tea, then bowl them out before bad light. easy.

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 21.

    Australia's bowling attack really does look very, very ordinary. They are definately there for the taking this series.

  • Comment number 22.

    we shouldn't drop swann collingwood or finn because swann is probably the best spinner in the world at the momment. collingwood is probably the best all rounder in the england team and finn gives englands pace bowling something different because of his height.

    I have never really liked cook but after scoring that century i can see why other people like him and why the england selectors have kept on picking him.

    England to retain the ashes with a 2-1 win over the aussies.

  • Comment number 23.

    # 18 i take your point, i wrote it before 1 had read any other comments and take back what i said about typical negative english spirit judging by the rest of the comments

    @ papa shango - back up your comments. Swann is number two in test bowling this year, so how do you not rate him as even top five spinners in the world. Would much rather have him than hauritz or doherty, and even panesar who is still living on past glories. At least swann can bat and field. collingwood averages over 40 in tests, pretty decent record to have. Finn took six wickets when it was just as flat as england batted on yesterday, yet you criticise him. You've also criticised Anderson in the past, saying he'd go at over four an over, when he was our most economical bowler.

    Justify your opinions please.

  • Comment number 24.

    aussies are the ones that need to win matches, not England. A draw here after scoring 260 first innings will feel like a win and Strauss must ensure Ozzie has ZERO chance of getting a win bat on til the lead is 250+ then have a nasty spell sticking some chin music up the openers

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm very impressed with the resilience in this England team. From Cardiff and twice in S.A, the team has shown they will not lie down without a fight.

    I have always valued Strauss as a top player and he really showed his mettle from nearly getting a pair to hitting a well deserved century. Admittedly I thought Cook would be a walking wicket in Australia, his technique and form were both terrible in England and he seemed to have lost all confidence. I think the century against Pakistan helped him enormously as well as good scores in the warm up games. He now seems much more solid and I am very glad to be eating humbel pie!

    I don't think Trott's cameo should be neglected as he played a very crucial role. If another few wickets had fallen when Strauss got out then all the good work previously would be undone. However, Trott typies this new English spirit and backbone and he did well to make sure we kept the momentum.

    I think the match will finish as a draw but I want us to get into them after tea tomorrow and see if we can unsettle this Australian line up.

  • Comment number 26.

    papa shango please see this link below which shows the official ICC bowling rankings in which you will see that Swann is 2nd in the world behind Steyn. Please could you let us know how you have come to the conclusion that Swann is not the best spinner in the world. Or as I suspect you have nothing better to do on a Sunday than try and be controversial for the sake of it rather than having any decent comment to make. Overall a fantastic days cricket from England and well worth seeing the sun come up for. Given our performance in 2007 it really shows how far we have come with the current crop of players and more than that how far Australia have fallen. I think it has to be noted that while England were impressive yesterday, this Australian side are nowhere close to their historical best and if we had given india or south africa that lead on their own back yard it is very unlikely they will have let us score so many without taking wickets. I thought Warne made a very good point in the fact that the problem with both England and Australia at the moment is the ability to take 20 wickets in a match. Still not worth being too negative a great start to what promises to me a nail biting Ashes series. Come on England!!

  • Comment number 27.

    Why is anyone humouring Papa Shango- the guy is clearly an attention starved wind up merchant who is trying to get a reaction. He/she/it obviously knows nothing about cricket and therefore its views can be discounted.

    Excellent from England. I fear a little for the Aussie bowling line up- not sure if they are going to compete on this performance.

  • Comment number 28.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 29.


    "I disagree. The typical English spirit is that exhibited by every other poster telling Papa_Shango what a fool he is."

    England had a superb fourth day with the bat. Fact.

    Papa_shango comes out with mindless gibberish. Fact.

    Not hard now, is it?

    If we focus on one thing, then the assertion than Swann isn't even in the top five spin bowlers in world cricket is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 30.

    Absolutely delighted with how they have turned the match from almost certain defeat to most likely a draw. It will boost team confidence and be real wrench to the Aussies. I think England should now bat out until an hour or so before tea, then put the Aussies in for a barrage of fast bowling and no chance of winning! Well done guys, really proud of you all, keep up the good work and bring those 'ashes' home!

  • Comment number 31.

    While completely disagreeing with what #1 said I do agree that Morgan should be in.

    People say he is untested at games of this intensity but if we don't give him a chance then in next series he will still be.

  • Comment number 32.


    "Swann is living on wickets against Bangladesh & Pakistan!! Vettori, Singh, Ajmal, Mendis, Herath are all better than Swann."

    Herath... giggles. What more proof do we need that you're a troll? Rangana Herath wasn't even the best spinner at Hampshire this season, let alone top five spinners in the world.

    Ajmal - currently averaging a shade under 40 in Test cricket.

    Mendis - currently averaging more than Swann and went through a major slump in form.

    Herath - I won't even dignify this with a response.

    Vettori and Singh are up there.

  • Comment number 33.

    papa shango...seem to stirred up a hornets nest..your posts are not really worthy of being placed on these boards and wish the moderators or who ever would remove them and send you back to post ona sport you probably understand..just...tiddly winks..enough said on that...what agreat performance from the openers which has sent a message to the aussie that to reclaim the ashes they are going to have to play out of their skins...really showed the aussie attack to be pretty toothless...I now beleive that the aussies will panick and make whole sale changes for the next test Strauss, Cook and Trott (so far) have gone along way in England retaining the ashes

  • Comment number 34.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 35.

    Papa Shango you crack me up more and more each day, everything you spout is comedic gold. From cricket to football you're hilarious.

    Today's classic's are calling for Cook to be dropped after scoring a half century and a century (currently not out) and saying to drop Finn who took 6 wickets in the first innings. Add that to your comments the other week that in 3 years time Gareth Bale would be playing football for Stoke and that pretty much sums up what you're on here for. You belong in the Darwin awards fella!

    Anyway great day's work from England's 3 batsmen and I think on the Aussie side Hilfenhaus was probably the most unlucky bowler out of the lot of them. Bowled a few decent balls that had the batsmen in trouble at times, shame for him he didn't get much support from the others though. Johnson has shown once again how erratic he is and how out of form he is. He's still capable of taking wickets but his problem is that he can't build any pressure on the batsmen and that's what Test bowling is about. It's all well and good being one of the quickest bowlers out there but without consistency it won't count for much. Look at McGrath and how good he was, not because he was unbelievably quick but because he put the ball exactly where the batsman didn't want it. And he was able to do it 4 or 5 balls every over. That's what puts a side under pressure, not one amazing ball out of every 25.

    Hopefully Cook and Trott can continue tomorrow where they left off to keep in good form. Then let the bowlers have a few overs at the Aussies just to give them a bit more practice in these conditions.

    All set up nicely for a great series though, as was said at the start the sides are very evenly matched and it's going to be a tight and exciting series from start to finish.

  • Comment number 36.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 37.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 38.

    papa shango wrote:

    "And I never said Cook should be dropped. Not your fault your dense!!"

    Always best to accuse others of being dense when your own spelling fails.

  • Comment number 39.

    Papa Shango

    Not entirely sure what your point is. Your comments, not your being, we all have some purpose.

    Not surprised though, I noticed you had a post removed from one of the other blogs for calling someone a gentlemans bit.


    As for your choice of spinners - none of them are English, so would be difficult to drop Swann for any of them, and also Swann is the second best bowler on the ICC world list and was up for ICC world player of the year last year

    And as for your post #37 - you have a lot of anger my friend. There is no need to be so aggressive. Its just a blog.

  • Comment number 40.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 41.

    Ah yes, how I regret my earlier post (#8). Papa Shango does appear to be a bit of a ... well I'd beter not say in case I get moderated.

    Perhaps Im just feeding the troll here, but just read your own posts: -

    "Swann is living on wickets against Bangladesh & Pakistan!! Vettori, Singh, Ajmal, Mendis, Herath are all better than Swann.
    Tell me the time Collingwood has won us a test? The most limited player we have, he has 2 scoring shots!! Morgan can take games away from teams, and is a better fielder than Collingwood. Collingwood is always out of form, always trying to save his career & never puts consecutive big scores together.
    Points backed up.... Now dry your eyes everyone."

    You can't expect anyone to take you seriously when you spout a few opinions (many of which are actually factually incorrect) and then declare "points backed up". You back up points with fact. Here is one: None of the above mentioned bowlers are ahead of Swann in the rankings. That is a fact. Most of them are not better than him by any other measure. OK that's an opinion but you can probably trawl cricinfo for some stats that will back that up.

    If you doubt Collingwood, how about his innings at Cardiff in the last Ashes that basically drew us the match.

    ... 2 scoring shots?
    ... is always out of form,
    ... always trying to save his career
    ... never puts consecutive big scores together.

    None of those comments really deserve a response really.

    If that's what you call 'backing up your points' then I think you are probably quite mad!

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    papa shango wrote:

    "Not your fault your dense!!"

    Irony, anyone?

  • Comment number 44.


    Nothing petty about it whatsoever. It was simply amusing coincidence that you accuse other people of being dense whilst failing to spell correctly.

    As for your assertions over Swann, pleae explain how you judge Rangana Herath and Saeed Ajmal to be better spinners than Swann when neither are first choice for their country at Test level and both possess inferior Test records to Swann.

  • Comment number 45.

    Excellent fight back by England
    Should be interesting when England will declare their 2nd innings tomorrow
    Unless England collapse tomorrow morning to 400 all out.
    I can only see this match being a draw and probably a fair result for this match

  • Comment number 46.


    You highlight everything bad about a english mindset.

    I think this england fightback shows that this is not the english of old that go missing when the going gets tough. Now lets get behind the team as we will win this ashes series. The starting 11 are our best in the opinion but we have good strength in depth that there are challengers in every position and we also appear to have a good team spirit which I believe Swanny and Anderson are responsible for.

    Good article by the way Tom shame some ...... had to ruin the comments section.

    Lets not talk about papa_shango I am sure he is the type of person who likes putting stupid comments on articles to get people reacting to him.

  • Comment number 47.

    Papa Shango

    I won't call you anything petty, though you have shown yourself to be petty by calling all of us dense for having opinions of our own.

    I don't know how you're proving us wrong, you've not justified your opinions nor had anyone else agree with your views. Everyone else here has argued against you and don't feel proved wrong at all.

    Until you can back yourself up with facts you will not prove anyone wrong

  • Comment number 48.

    #40 - "Resorting to petty comments because im proving you all wrong?"

    I propose a motion whereby everyone ignores Papa Shangos comments otherwise he'll carry on. It's kind of entertaining, but it's stealing Mr Fordyce's thunder a bit and distracting us from the main thread here.

    The good thing about this test is that, in theory, all 4 results are still possible. We could capitulate before lunch and they could canter home. Then again we could get a lead of 200- 250 or so and then bowl them out. And then the most likely result, a draw (a tie would be fun though!)

    If we can bat until midway through the second session, we should be over 200 in front, which should put the game beyond them. But I remember the test against SA when we were 5 down with 14 overs to go and Freidel 'whatever happened to him' de Wet nearly won it for the saffers. So you never know. I won't be happy unless we are at lunch with at least 5 wickets in hand.

    As a few people have said, a draw here - especially if we give them a few uncomfortable overs at the end - would give us the momentum (if there is such a thing)

  • Comment number 49.

    papa shango, I think it's time to take your meds ;)

    The fightback from England is something we haven't seen often, steely determination and guts have been lacking all too often in the last couple of decades.
    It doesn't matter whether the pitch is dead either, it still takes a little quality and as much luck to do something on it, just ask the Aussie batsmen, including Hussey and Haddin.
    I personally would have picked Morgan ahead of Colly, but I'm not disappointed with the selection as I've seen how well moulded this group of players has become, Morgan will be itching for a go, so if he has to be drafted in, he'll hopefully slot fight into place and we even have a decent set of backup bowlers if needed too.

  • Comment number 50.

    Papa_shango's 3 brain cells are clearly devoid of any Test Cricket knowledge full stop!

    For the Aussie pace attack to fail to take a single wicket in a bowling day at their glorius "Gabbatoir" says alot & is very significant! I just love the sight of Punter scratching his chin for inspiration!

    Come on England!

  • Comment number 51.

    Haha #37, maybe if you wrote something of merit people would read it properly. I assumed because you've criticized Cook in every other post you've written that you wanted him dropped but maybe that's your way of saying he should keep his place. Maybe you're some sort of genius who's trying to use reverse psychology on the England players to motivate them to prove you wrong....or maybe you don't have a clue what you're talking about. And as no-one you know will listen to it anymore you spout your rubbish on here instead. Whatever it is though as I said keep it up, it gives me a chuckle every day.

    Just to try and get back to having a proper debate though, do you really think Panesar would be a better bet than Swann? I know you don't like people to back up their points with figures but Swann is a better batsman, a better fielder andthe record books would indicate he's a better bowler. To be fair Panesar wasn't dreadful in the last Ashes in Australia although an average of around 38 is hardly amazing and doesn't exactly scream "match winner" at you. Swann has bowled consistently well for England and although you think he will be found out sooner rather than later it hasn't happened so far so why drop him?

    I will actually agree with you that I think Collingwood is a weak link in the line up and wouldn't be against seeing Morgan included. However I do see why they are holding back there as a bad series for Morgan could dent his confidence for some time. Just look at how Bell struggled against Australia when he first played them and how long it's taken him to feel comfortable against them. But you spoke of Anderson not being up to the task recently and you can't say he bowled poorly in the Australian innings. He couldn't have done much else and it's rare to see a bowler be so unlucky.

  • Comment number 52.

    I agree with Papa Shango.

    Cooks innings was on a dead pitch - the ICC should remove it from the scorecard.

    Swanns wickets against other nations should not count, and he should be banned from test cricket for fooling us all that he is very good.

    Collingwood somehow manages to average 44 in Australia despite having only 2 shots and without ever scoring more than 0 against Australia. The ICC should investigate.

    As for Finn - how dare he take wickets - thats not acceptable. Drop him now.

    My internet time is over now, I have to go and see a man in a white coat who wants me to tell him what I see in some ink splodges.

    Look at the colours, so many pretty colours.

  • Comment number 53.

    On an actual Cricket note.

    I too am heartened by the fight back. Too many times against the Aussies we have capitulated. Largely because they had a bowling attack who punished any errors, but McGrath and Warne are no more - and this team has more kahunas.

    If you had scripted the worst first day - it would have gone like it did.

    If you could have scripted the best 4th day - it would have gone like it did.

    1 wicket in an entire 3 sessions is just as phenomenal as the 6 wicket burst from Siddle.

    Excellent work to Strauss, Cook and Trott - one day to go.

  • Comment number 54.

    #1 - Can we all please just accept the fact that Mr. Shango exists purely to amuse himself by annoying other posters with his childish and illogical comments. Perhaps our friend should take heed of what Botham said during the First Day's play - "Don't stay up all night if you can't handle it." The lack of sleep seems to be going to the poor man's head. Now please, let us mention him and his idiocy no more.

    And Tinoflyer #52 - you forgot one very important thing. The pitch at the Gabba was not what it was expected to be, due to unusual weather for the time of year. Therefore the result of the Test will be invalid anyway.

  • Comment number 55.


    Absolutely right. I am on the case. I have used the voices in my head to set the wheels of change in motion. Soon me and Papa Shango will have our justice. England must not be allowed to succeed.

    Why can only me and the Papa see this?

    I have got to go now, George W has forced a locked down.

    Twinkle twinkle little stars...

  • Comment number 56.

    The beauty of cricket is that we all read the game differently, but
    papa shango's latest suggestion that we drop Finn, Collingwood and Swann, in order to "save the series", is one of the more inept comments I've read. Are we watching the same test match, I wonder?

  • Comment number 57.

    I haven't read all of the comments because it is long but papa shango you really have no clue and should really just stop talking

  • Comment number 58.

    To the Papa Dingbats and the Tiny Flyers of this world (deliberate typing changes just in case you are too thick to realise), you both need an education in Cricket before your lame comments can be considered.

    No International cricket team of any worth dumps players purely because they loose form.

    Cook can be infuriating at times, especially as he has a history of not pushing on when he's built a platform. But at 26 and with 14 test hundreds, it is right that the England setup back raw talent even if that talent is not always on show. He is learning and has played so far with a maturity we have not seen before. Long may it continue.

    I've seen the great Beefy play absolute garbage. And Warne for that matter. All cricketeers struggle from time to time. Dropping them at the first sign of trouble is ridiculous.

    I can only assume that the two of you are couple of closet Aussies up to mischief. In which case, look closer to home because if you think we have problems look at Mitchell Johnson!

    And preferably engage brain before you comment. Sorry my mistake, you don't appear have one.

  • Comment number 59.

    @VinnieBoards #58 - Agree 100% but I think you'll find TinoFlyer is joking!

  • Comment number 60.

    Gotta love the five day game.

  • Comment number 61.

    I can only assume that papa_shango is employed by the BBC to leave ridiculous comments that get everyone to comment and get involved because surely there can not be any other reason for the rubbish he sprouts.

  • Comment number 62.

    Didn't we agree to stop talking about Papa Shango? OK, maybe it was just me.
    I agree with post 56 - as in all sports, a lot of it boils down to opinion.
    Obviously there is a day to go and we're not out of the woods. But assuming we draw (or even win), then I would like to make a few points:-

    - I would also probably prefer Morgan over Collingwood. However Morgan has not shown his one day form in his few tests to date, and Collingwood has proven pedgree. You don't make a double ton if you can't play. Ys he is possibly the weak link, but let's see at the end of the series.
    - Against that, I think the policy of sticking with the same team is good, as long as they don't go too far and make certain people feel 'undroppable'(as Pietersen has been accused of). Ten or fifteen years ago, it seemed that our players used to get dropped too soon and then they always felt under pressure.
    - I also agree with Ashes2011EnglandWin (#46) amongst others who mentioned the team spirit. With the margins so tight, this factor is crucial
    - Cook's innings was fantastic imho. Out of form and back up against the wall, he produced. As did Strauss and Trott I might add. Easy pitch is may have been, but he'd been fielding all day so was probably not at his freshest and they were under great pressure. He knew we couldn't afford him to fail. Hats of to him I say. What more do you want?
    - Same goes for Finn. Maybe he took some 'easy' wickets, but he'd also been out there all day watching Hussey and Haddin punish us. Hats off to him too.
    - It seems that there is much more resilience in this side. Other England teams of the past may have capitulated
    - All in all it looks positive for us if we can hang on and even give them a scare. Whilst they did get a big total, our bowling looks more dangerous than theirs at this stage. If Swann can come good then we have a great chance.
    - Johnson (and to a lesser extent, Pitersen) looks completely absurd with his 'tache. I really hope it's just for Movember. Surely he will shave it off once we reach December? And he was utter rubbish with the ball. They must be worried about him, and his place must be at risk. That said, he'll probably roll us over tomorrow! It's OK, I'm not superstitious.

  • Comment number 63.

    #59 Robert_Marks - you beat me to it! Yes, I think tinoflyer's post is laced with a touch of irony. Come to think of it, maybe Papa Shango's are too.......

  • Comment number 64.

    Best day's cricket I've watched down under. Ah the sight of aimless and depressed aussies, wondering around in circles knowing there's nothing they can do about it, and only a day after they did it to England.

    This match has gone one way then the next, in extremes as well. England batsmen looking stronger, and their attack looked more dangerous too. I'd rather see England bat tomorrow out, make them suffer, ready for the 2nd test.

  • Comment number 65.


    I clearly must make it more obvious next time when I am taking the mick.

    You will see from my post 53 that I am actually on the side of sanity most of the time.

    As you say that no international team dumps players when they lose form - is what you said.

    There is truth in that, but not sure it is the best approach. Our England team is managed like a club side due to the central contracts, consequently it is less easy to chop and change like international teams of the past. I do think Collingwood is lucky to be in the team, but Cricket is unlike any other sport and one good innnings in a series can determine your presence in the next.

    Cook in theory should have been dropped and many were calling for his head. Seems like a strange call now having put in back to back performances.

    Cricket is not the same kind of game to talk about form in the same way as football or rugby.

    That said, I do think we perservere with players too long - in the hope they come good. It works if the players around can carry you.

  • Comment number 66.

    Guys when are you going to recognise that Papa Shango is just a juvenile teenager who's best friends are his right hand and a girl with staples through her breasts. Don't bother rising to the bait.

  • Comment number 67.

    So the wicket is flat and the Aussie bowling not up to much, so what. Strauss, Cook and Trott were under a huge amount of pressure. Fail and we go down by a test. All three were magnificent, played positively and set down their mark for the rest of the series. I would hope to see us make the game safe between lunch and tea and put them in with the aim to try and get a psychological edge going into Adelaide. Well done boys.

  • Comment number 68.

    Kapnag, if we are 180+ ahead at lunch and only 3 wickets down, I would like to see us add quick runs after lunch and make the Australians sweat on a declaration and potentially 45 overs trying to survive.

  • Comment number 69.

    #66 bigbadbuddha - well said
    #67 bigbadbuddha - well said, again

  • Comment number 70.

    England were unlucky with the ball yesterday morning and could very easily have taken a few, just as Siddle had a touch of luck combined with skill for his fully deserved wickets on the opening day.

    What I am struggling to see is either of these teams taking 20 wickets in many tests if the predictions are true and the wickets continue to be flat and benign.

    Consequently I see a very, very close series on the cards. Both teams separated by maybe just a couple of sessions of brilliance from a couple of individuals. Just at the moment I would say that Swann and Anderson are the most likely to achieve that and therefore I think England will get over the line (just).

    Having said that I always get the feeling that the Aussie batting line up is class struggling for a bit of form, whereas England is more of a grafting, nuggety type. Class has a tendency to triumph in the long run.

    Back to the original point, well done Strauss/Cook/Trott for an excellent fightback. Bat out the final day and allow the Aussie bowlers to knacker themselves mentally and physically. Take the draw and move on to Adelaide. back to back tests and the bowlers will be hurting after over 2 days in the field.

    Sporting declarations have no place in an Ashes test (Maybe just to give Anderson and Broad and hour against the openers if the pitch starts misbehaving).

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    #71 papa shango. you probably do, just make sure mummy and daddy are not looking over your shoulder.

  • Comment number 73.


    "Johnson (and to a lesser extent, Pitersen) looks completely absurd with his 'tache. I really hope it's just for Movember."


    Johnson, Pietersen, Siddle and Hilfenhaus are all doing it for Movember. Hilfenhaus is trying a handlebar, whilst Siddle's is ginger and pretty rubbish!

    This Test has been fantastic Test cricket. Day 4 surpassed anyone's highest hopes (well, anyone who is English!), and hopefully it will continue tomorrow.

  • Comment number 74.

    Papa Shango.

    Frankly you're the most entertaining poster on the Beeb right now, your assertations of superior knowledge despite flying in the face of facts is fantastic. Your use of contradictions (Cook batting on dead pitch, Swann apparently not bowling on one though, etc.) is amazing, you're so good a it that for a moment I wasn't even sure myself that you were actually joking.

    Keep up the good work fella, perhaps I'll catch you at the Edinburgh festival next year.

  • Comment number 75.

    papa shango, your knowledge of cricket is so woeful its like listening to a toddler talking about differentiation and integration

    "Swann is not the best spinner in the world. Not even in the top 5"

    he's ranked number two in the world before the start of this test, and the highest ranked spinner. so how are you proving us all wrong?

    some people are just a danger to society....

  • Comment number 76.

    They won't let Papa Shango have staples where he is. Or shoe laces.

  • Comment number 77.

    At 11:49am on 28 Nov 2010, papa_shango wrote:
    Cook gets a hundred on a dead pitch, big deal. He can now fail all series and not be dropped. Swann bowled like a drain, as I predicted on these blogs, we need big changes to win this series! Drop Swann, Collingwood & Finn, bring in Bresnan, Panesar & Morgan. Then we might just retain the ashes. And lets not forget only Oz can still win this test, few early wickets & we will crumble.

    and you play cricket for which county and country

  • Comment number 78.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 79.

    Bresnan? You must be joking. We have the best team picked - they have to deliver.

  • Comment number 80.

    All I can say is WOW PAPA SHANGO. Your blogs really do amuse me and hats off to you!!!! Although I doubt very much you have played too much cricket yourself. I have always been one to criticse England having played at a very high level myself however I would say have u any idea how mentally tough it is to score big in a second innings with a deficit of 200. You simply would have no idea. Keeping consistency and team morale is the key and swapping and changing the team (as you suggest) would do more harm than good. Morgan is quality and his time will come.

    For once I say well done England albeit against an under par ozzy team.

    Papa shago for chairman of selectors anyone?!!?!?

  • Comment number 81.

    Papa Shango - I haven't had such a laugh since simple truth's gibbeish on the Liverpool saga.

    On the important subject of 'taches, and to reply to matt-h88, I figured that they were probably doing it for Movember. You can always spot someone who doesn't suit a moustache or can't grow one. Hilfenhaus's is slightly disguised cos he usually sports a 5 o clock shadow, and Siddles is barely visible from a distance.

    I remember seeing an interview with Jon Batty of Surrey a few years back. It was about 28th Nov and his tache looked rather like a typical cricket match. Eleven a side.

    I agree with #79 that we have the best side, but if Bresnan (or Tremlett for that matter) came in then I think they would do a job. Hopefully we don't get too many injuries but all of our subs are decent enough players.

  • Comment number 82.

    "Papa shago for chairman of selectors anyone?!!?!?"

    I presume you mean for the Aussie team?

  • Comment number 83.

    Hey, don't get distracted by Papa_Shango. He is either a WUM, in which case he should be ignored, or a half-wit, in which case he should be pitied. I suspect he is a bit of both.

  • Comment number 84.

    Re #1

    "Drop Swann... bring in Panesar" LOL LOL LOL

  • Comment number 85.

    I dare say that we are willing to let Indian selectors help out you folks... looks like they could contribute with their rooting for the old guard, that has proved to be the lucky dice throws we in India have had. Any one in Oz or our colonial masters interested ?

  • Comment number 86.

    83. At 4:20pm on 28 Nov 2010, dudepod45 wrote:

    Hey, don't get distracted by Papa_Shango.


    Too late. I'd say 75% of the 85 comments so far are in response to him.

  • Comment number 87.

    If I was an Aussie I would be frightened at the level of self-belief this England side has. A far cry from recent touring English Ashes sides. Aside from Michael Vaughan's "monsterous" series in 2002, English batsman have rarely dominated proceedings in Australia and never have we seen such a reareguard action as this. All England fans would've woke up thinking: "well we had a good chance before the game but lets face it, the batting will crumble today and we'll be finished by tea."

    What we saw, was a side who did not stop believing they can save this. Everyone seems to have ruled out an England win, but a session and a half of a KP who has been wounded by the Aussie fans booing him could be all we need. I anticipate Strauss giving KP a license to bat the only way he knows and letting the others around to continue their hard work. Who knows, we could be in a winning situation by lunch.

  • Comment number 88.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 89.

    Post #86 - I reckon there are about 54 comments that respond or allude to papa_shango (add this one), and your (sic) right, it's too many.

    Interesting aside, yesterday Aggers reckoned our best case scenario was 300-4. Quite accurate but in fact not quite optimistic enough. He also goes on to say that it can turn in a moment, and he's right with that. Even if we get to lunch with a 180-ish run lead and 4 wickets left, they could still win. So to quote Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction - lets not start sucking each others... well watch the movie.

  • Comment number 90.

    Papa_ Shango, your comment is one day too late, and plus its a load of tosh you have written.

    After day 2, I thought England were in serious strife, by Day 3 dead and buried. Yet I have to eat some humble pie, and say that's one of the most astonishing fight backs i've seen by England in a long time, and England have turned the tide on day 4. 309 -1 , the best I thought would have been about 250 odd for 3 wickets in all honesty, and that was being optimistic.

    Criticisms of Cook & Swann are too far off the mark to be taken seriously. But I've been worried about Collingwood for some time, and I think he's the England player under most threat this series for his place. Bresnan is a good bowler, but I would have to stick with our bowling attack, and give them a bit of time to adjust.

    I wrote an article after day 2, saying the Aussies were nailed on for this series. But I have to hold me hands up, and say its a 50:50 call now

  • Comment number 91.

    Any one who has an old WWE/WWF Wrestlers name (Papa Shango) as his ID should probably go back to watching greased up men compete in a 'real sport'. Leave the lesser sports to everyone else!

    However the 1st test now ends up, (probably a great draw for England) i honestly think that we will now go on to win the series, without a doubt! Aside from (what ca now only be considered) a nervy blip in the 1st innings, i think England have now proved themselves to be far superior! Both batting and definitely bowling. My prediction: England to win 3-0. With one more draw along the way.

  • Comment number 92.

    Who on earth is papa-shango to comment in the way that he has about Cook and Swan in fact about the whole Test match. I wonder what his cricketing credentials are, slim I would think. Having played the game at couple of lower levels for many years the game has always thrown up odd ball situations of who is good and who isn't. Cook's record for his age second to very few and Swan still learning his craft and standing at number two in the world. This is a good England team captained by a very able man but the game of cricket is what it is, hence the saying "It's not Cricket" because the game has th ability to turn everything on its head on the whim of a pitch, cloud cover or wind. Some people are never happy unless they can critisize.

  • Comment number 93.

    Having just done a bit of research on Cricinfo. Swann's stats stack up rather nicely against the other bowlers mentioned, Papa (just to really prove you wrong, I only looked at stats from test matches against Aus, Ind, SA, Eng, NZ, SL). His economy is higher than everyone else, but his strike rate is lower than everyone bar Mendis and his average is lower in the middle with Singh and Mendis ahead of him.

    Which would suggest Swann is in the top 3 and arguably the top 2 spinners in the world.

    Just if you wanted some facts there. ;)

  • Comment number 94.

    Englands Weakest Collingwood he has to score runs or be droped he is there as a batsman.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hahaha, that troll must be laughing his head off. Look how obsessed some of you are with it!!!

  • Comment number 96.

    I suggest everyone ignore Papa_shango as he clearly hasn't got a clue what he is talking about. Did he even watch the game or is he basis his comments on his own imagination of what happened. I have watched every ball so far and the test match has been enthralling. Both sides are really well matched and it has been a real battle throughout. England made a mess of things with their first innings but that probably had more to do with it being the first test of an ashes series than anything else. They have fought back superbly with both bat and ball. Yes I know austrailia scored a big 1st innings total but if you watched the game you would have seen that England bowled really very well on a very good batting pitch. England's first innings total was well below par but they learnt their lesson well and have really shown that this series is going to be a really close battle.
    The first test is likely to end in a draw but both sides have a slight chance of winning the game (Austrailia are still a little ahead right now). The first session before lunch tomorrow will really shape the final days play. If England score quickly they may consider a declaration with 40-50 overs to go but if they go along at 3 per over they will probably try to bat out the day and keep their bowlers fresh for the next test. Of course a few quick wickets for Austrailia and the pressure will be back on England. This game isn't over yet.

  • Comment number 97.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 98.

    Hahahahaha at papa shango. Suprised with his take on all sports as even after a century and a sixfer (cook and finn) he still calls for them to be dropped. And dropping the OFFICIAL best spinner and 2nd best bowler in cricket is ludicrous. Even bowling badly he picked up more wickets than johnson and doherty of the aussies. oh yes and as he doesnt seem to keep up with the sports he comments on he doesnt realise that collingwood has saved our skin on many occasions and got us draws from impossible situations. whenever we seem to be outplayed 4 a match he steps up. However as he prob has never picked up a bat ill forgive his inadequacy in predicting sport. P.s have seen your comments on football recently and so therefore now believe u should go buy football manager and show us how its done... pmsl

  • Comment number 99.

    I can't wait for midnight. I hope England continue to grind on making the Aussie bowlers toil. Maybe a cheeky declaration with 20 overs to go, just to have a nibble at their tired and insecure batsmen who will have been fielding on 3 consecutive days. Get the draw and a big moral victory and then let Finn and Broad get at them on Day 1 at Adelaide in the second test.

  • Comment number 100.

    A forgotten wicket-keeping hero from 86/87 and others - i hope it tickles thee


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