A little bit about me and my little blog

This is by far not the first cricket blog to be written and it certainly won't be the last (or necessarily the best). But it's mine.

This is mainly an excuse for me to carry on about a sport that has been something of an obsession since I was knee high to a middle stump. An obsession which has never left throughout the many highs (behave, there have been some) and lows (and boy have there been many of those…..) of being and England cricket fan in the years since.

The views and opinions in this blog are entirely my own. Sometimes light-hearted, occasionally irreverent, hopefully never offensive.

What gives this fool the right to have an opinion on this great sport? Where are his credentials I hear you ask? Well I think my catch at mid-on in the inter-house final at Heath Grammar school in 1981 speaks for itself…..

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Pre-amble to the 5th Ashes Test

The final match of the Ashes series takes place at the Oval on Wednesday. It ranks as probably my favourite of all the English grounds and is a place that has regularly witnessed numerous important events throughout it's illustrious history. Indeed, it is at the ground where arguably the Ashes as we know them were born after the English loss to the Aussies by just 7 runs in 1882, after which the Sporting Times newspaper mock obituary appeared. The headline famously mourned the 'death' of English cricket with the now immortal line that: "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia."

It is also the ground where Don Bradman captained the famous 'Invincibles' in 1948 for the very last time. The Don only need four runs to reach an astonishing Test average of 100 yet famously fell short and finished his career Test average 99.94.

The Oval is traditionally a fast paced pitch which traditionally favours the speedier pace bowlers so I'm anticipating that the injured Tim Bresnan will be replaced by the imposing figure of Chris Tremlett who terrorised the Aussies on the last England Ashes tour down under. The Australian team hasn't remained unchanged yet this series and the possible injury of Watson may yet again mean than the team has to be altered.

This Test match is highly important for a number of reasons. For England it is the all so rare chance of winning an Ashes series to zero. There is an old cricketing adage that if the opposition is down then you keep you foot on their throat and show no mercy. This is essential for England to do as not only will it mean a convincing 4-0 score line but it will provide an important psychological edge for the return Ashes series that takes place down-under in November. 

For Australia it is as equally important for similar reasons that they win the final Test of the series. So many times in this series they have had control of parts of the match, winning sessions and even days of play, yet time and time again England have found a way not to lose. Yes England on the whole have been the better side overall, but the 3-0 scoreline could have been all so very different - and the Aussies are well aware of this. They are a proud cricketing nation and will be doing everything they can to make sure that the promise that some of their young players show finally manifests itself in a Test victory.

However England are now unbeaten in 12 Test matches and Australia now bear the very same scars that blighted the English back in the 1990's. Back then we witnessed the careers of veterans and newer playes often cruelly obliterated by the Australian machine who quite rightly never showed any mercy. Now the roles have been reversed with players such as Brad Haddin coming towards the end of their career and knowing they never again play in an Ashes winning team, and rookies such as Khawaja now possibly permanently scarred by the futility of the battles they currently find themselves in.

My prediction is that England will continue to scar the Aussies and will wrap up the series 4-0.

Some parts of this piece feature in the marvellous website - I'm now a featured writer there you know!

Friday, 16 August 2013

The Ashes - 4th Test: Durham

Due to the effects of a heavy cold ( I hear the words man flu and I hunt you down) it means that my normal cricket ramblings will be somewhat less than usual in volume, humour and possibly even in factual information. There may be some of you out there who may argue that those characteristics are normally missing anyway, particularly the second two……well I'm doped up on cold medication at the moment so I don't care…..for now.

Now that I've 'sold' this piece quite beautifully then I suppose an account of the Test match is in order. By no choice of my own ( did I mention that I don't feel well?) it will have to be a rather truncated account of what turned out to be one hell of a Test match. 

*  Captain Cook wins the toss - Oh goody, and then takes a while to decide to bat…..the ball swings here you know………...

*  We then have to listen to the Sky commentary team tall us again about the history of the ground… the people in this part of the world love their sport… Beefy Sir Botham played here… Shane Watson refused to stay in the castle because he thought his room was haunted…… the ball swings at this ground………….

*  Australia have decided that naming an unchanged team is for pansies and bring in pace bowler and part-time Crowded house lead singer lookalike (Neil Finn) - Jackson Bird, who replaces Mr Starc……. the right-hander may not be express pace but apparently he can swing it like a good'un…………which is good as Sky remind us that the ball swings at this ground you know…...

Jackson Bird - Right arm fast medium
Neil Finn - Lead singer of
Crowded house

*  England, drunk with the euphoria of winning the toss promptly decide to employ the 'bugger this getting runs lark' and are all out for 238 with only Captain courageous Cook and OCD Trott bothering to get some runs…… At one one 6 wickets proceed to fall for just 50 runs which is a bit annoying as I was in the bath at the time, so that's my fault then…...Neil Finn promptly repays the Aussie selectors with a couple of wickets…… KP did give a bit of a tonking to Lyons for a while who later annoyingly then gets him out…….. while Lyons continues to make the rest of the world believe he is an off-spinner by getting 4 wickets………..

'Shane, I can't hear you mate!"
*  The Aussie boys needed to respond in a far more measured way when batting and post a sizeable first innings lead. Naturally, that doesn't happen. For example, apart from the excellent Rogers and also Mr Watson (no, you read that correctly), no other batsman had obviously bothered to read the memo sent round by coach and part-time Sky commentary eavesdropper Darren Lehman "to score tons and tons of runs against the Poms"……
At one point the Aussies were 14 runs short of the England total with 5 wickets in hand before deciding that having a sizeable first innings lead was for pansies and were all out for 270. Darren Lehman looks on from the balcony in disbelief, partly from the state of the Aussie batting, but also because the Sky commentary reception is lost………Stuart Broad gets 5 wickets thereby pissing off a lot of people………..

*  Our boys 2nd innings begins………., though this time a show of fighting spirit at last from our batsmen - well some of them anyway, particularly with the Bresinator and Spin King Swann giving the Aussie bowlers a bit of a royal tonking when it had looked like a lead of only 220 ish would be on the cards. It should be noted in dispatches the Mr Bell continued to be this blogger's main cricketing man-crush of the moment by defying the Aussie bowlers to score yet another hundred and thereby continue his elevation from Sherminator to Terminator (sorry about that, I'll get me coat)….………..Ryan Harris continued his annoying habit of being rather good and getting lots of our batsmen out………Lyon gets 3 more wickets, the world is going mad.

*  England are all out for 330, setting the Aussies 299 to win the match…….by all intelligent accounts (and the Sky pundits too) that could be far too much for the battling Aussies, especially if Warner and Rogers don't get off to a good start.

* Bugger. Warner and Rogers get off to a good start.

* 109 runs are put on at a brisk pace…….Golden god Jimmy Anderson looks knackered and the ball isn't swinging….. Crap sky pundit Shane Warne can hardly hide his joy, calls Cook's captaincy negative and scared…….the Aussies reach 186 for 2, still very much in charge and heading for a victory that is increasingly annoying the Sky pundits, or rather the inability of Cook and our boys to get them out - bless em…..the tea interval comes and a chance for me to take more cold medicine ( have I mentioned that I'm not very well?)……It is 5:05 PM and the Aussies are looking bloody good…...

* Stuart Broad then decides enough is enough and decides to go a bit bonkers with the ball, including one that arguably could be the best ball he's ever bowled to get Captain Clarke out……… the Aussie panic now sets in as he takes six wickets in just 43 balls. At one point they were cruising …..seemingly on their way to a much deserved victory……now they are all out. It is 7:40 PM and the Aussies have lost……..

Perhaps the best sound of the day (apart from the cheers of the crowd as Jimmy catches the last wicket of Broad's) is the sound of Shit  pundit Shane Warne trying to be magnanimous after seeing 9 Australian wickets fallin that evening session.

England win the Test match and with it the series - that's now 3 Ashes series in a row

* Let me end on this (before my cold sends me over the edge into pneumonia's perpetual despair)…… Shane Warne continues to belittle Cook's captaincy - Mr Warne, you were a great player, I loved to watch you bowl, but as a pundit you such big chunks……try reading some of the post-match writing and comments from ex-Australian players like Glenn McGrath and Merv Hughes to see what intelligent analysis should be like.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

The Ashes - 3rd Test: Old Trafford

The evening of the final days play (or non play) saw me as most evenings do, spending a little time on some online escapade (keep it clean please again people!). During the course of that evening I happened to find myself in the middle of an a slightly disagreeable Twitter discussion with a rather disgruntled and frankly rude Australian Cricket supporter. Now as I'm currently not particularly up on the latest legal ramifications of Twitter libel laws I shall simply refer to him as 'Disgruntled Aussie fan' (DAF)

It went something along these lines;

Disgruntled Aussie fan (DAF): Awww strewth, look Cobber me old pom (OK, maybe I made that first part up) You were completely outplayed Poms! You guys were bloody lucky your British weather saved your arses!

Me: Now look here old chap, old bean (yep, made that bit up too) Your guys were the better team - but I still think we would have held out, bad weather or not.

(DAF): You're talking out of your arse Pom - we're playing you off the park this series!

Me: But you're 2-0 down.

(DAF): Balls! - we have a better captain, better bowlers and better batsmen! You'd be crap without Anderson & Pietersen

Me: But our leading wicket taker is Swann & leading Batsman is Bell.

(DAF): And your a bunch of whinging cheaters!

Me: Er, how?

(DAF): That cheating ***** Broad should have walked, he knew he nicked the ball in the last Test.

Me: Didn't Clarke not walk when he was given out? Oh and Warner didn't walk when he clipped it in this match?

(DAF): That's different. Plus you lot took the piss wasting time on the final day.

Me: How?

(DAF): Bell wasting time getting the physio on so he could wait until it started raining

Me: But his thumb had just been smashed by a bouncer from Ryan Harris! 

(DAF): nah he's just a soft Pom bastard - our lot play through pain.

Me: Er, well Clarke called the Physio on the day before when he got hit on the hand.

(DAF): Well bowling your overs slow on purpose when you knew it was going to rain was cheating too!

Me: We'd be fined for excessively slow over rates - we haven't been fined. Should we have bowled them quicker to help you guys win?

(DAF): Aussies always play fair!!!!!

Me: We're no Angels I accept, but don't all teams play to win?

(DAF): See see!! you admit you cheat!!

ME: I didn't say that - what I'm saying is that we all play to win and we're winning the series.

(DAF): You're only winning because we're so rubbish that we make you look good. You're very bloody ordinary!

ME: But you said earlier you have the better…………...

And on it went………… not only with the increasingly energetic twittering of DAF but also with one or two of his 'Twattering followers' joining in with a bit of communal Pom-bashing. I must add that DAF doesn't necessarily resemble the attitude, fairness and humour of my numerous Aussie friends - I actually have a good many friends from the land of Oz and a few of them are actually quite normal and decent people. The mutual respect and good-natured ribbing is one of the great things about Ashes cricket. No, what is really starting to get on my nerves is some of the hypocritical and self-serving nonsense that is being spouted about the England Cricket team - often comments from people who should know better - Yes ex-England captains commentating for a certain satellite channel, I'm partly talking about you! 

DAF may only be an extreme example of this attitude to English cricket…...Maybe i'm just getting crabby as the years progress!

You should know me by now, namely that I'm not one to shy away from saying that "I told you so". So in the case of those who were glibly proclaiming that we would thrash the Aussies 5-0 and would whitewash them within a whisker of their cricketing lives - I bloody well told you so!! I say that because this Test match saw us outplayed for the vast majority of the 5 days…. in fact some would argue our most effective phase of play was the impressive speed of putting the rain covers on the pitch as soon as the Manchester rain (thankfully) arrived. There are also some that would argue that when the final day saw a drawn game and by design, the retention of the Ashes, it was all something of an anti-climax. I wouldn't disagree with that final point, well maybe only a little.

Now I could continue this piece about the first day day being about more DRS controversies, or rather the seeming ineptitude of the 3rd umpire to use it in a logical and reasonable way that would actually make sense to commentators and public alike. But I won't. I could also talk about a captain losing the toss then subsequently wasting numerous referrals which meant at least twice that a cast Iron howler from the on field umpire was unable to be challenged ( this time Captain Cook, not Captain Clarke). But I wont.
"This is a bat, you use it to score runs" shouts Clarke
to his team
No, I would rather mention the class innings from a genuinely great modern day player - the fact that he happens to be the Australian captain, and therefore by definition Is bloody annoying from an 'England easily retaining the Ashes' point of view.  won't profess to know a lot about Michael Clarke the man, but he seems like an genuinely decent guy. 

This may result in messages of accounts that he once pulled a girls' pig-tails in a primary school class or that he has a secret addiction to watching The Care Bears movie on repeat after repeat viewing whilst drinking nothing but extra-sweetened prune juice..... But I admire the guy, bloody hell I even like the guy - well at least some of the time.  This Test match exemplified why I love the Australian approach to cricket- the annoying buggers just never know when they are bloody beaten! It also exemplified why sometimes the attitude by some to English cricket gets on my blooming nerves - but more of that later.

This match witnessed the Aussies regenerated by Clarke's magisterial total of 187, with the tourists helping themselves to a massive 527-7 in their first innings. In fact, only Khawaja and Watson (insert your own joke here) of the top the Aussie top order failed to score heavily - and Mr Khawaja can feel mightily aggrieved about his dismissal, as I shall mention in a moment or two. I would talk about David Warner's pantomime appearance but the 'poor sod' got enough of a message from the Old Trafford crowd. Perhaps the only plus point from England's point of view was spin King Swann's Pfieffer (5-159)….golden god Jimmy Anderson to be frank looks plain knackered, being bowled into the ground earlier in the series now looks like coming back to bite us.

The 'tag you're it' game starts with defeat for KP

My boys being bowled out for 368 on what was looking increasingly like a flat bed of concrete was pretty pants - the Aussie bowling was as equally impressive as their batting had been with Siddle looking as excellent as ever with his 4-63. It's not that our batting was completely terrible, Cook finally got some runs and KP decided it was time for him and his ego to join in the Ashes fun. The way that he took the Aussie spinner apart was pure vintage - the man is still word class. In addition to that, Ian Bell continued on his rich vein of form with another tasty innings. He may have fallen short of a 4th successive Ashes century but there was one particular cover drive in his total of 60 that should really have pride of place on a 18 and over adult website - it was that delicious.

So the follow-on was saved, the Aussies had to bat again on what was fast becoming a race against time as the notoriously wet Manchester weather was fast approaching…..this was going to be a cracker…….

The resemblance to any umpire is purely intentional
However, it seems that this Ashes series is in danger of being renamed from being the Investec Ashes to  the DRS Ashes - yes more Umpiring controversy on day one, two, three and four. 

For some time now I and many others have been more than a little unhappy with the BCCI's refusal to accept the use of DRS in any series that it plays in. The refusal of one governing body to accept a system that every other cricketing body accepts sets a dangerous precedent in challenging whatever cricket criteria that the majority accept. The BCCI'S assertion that they won't accept DRS because the technology is flawed and won't solve 100% of the decisions completely misses the point, it is there to HELP rather than solve the umpiring decisions. 

The general opinion is that yesterdays furore with DRS will play into the BCCI's hands in unilaterally refusing it's implementation - already I've been reading a few "I told you so" from supporters of their position. 

Let me be clear - this is not an anti Indian stance, I have a huge amount of respect for Indian cricket. I have the same problem with the stance of the BCCI in exactly the same way I would have with the ECB if a similar unilateral decision had been made by my cricket board. For example, many in this country don't agree with the notion of having an  elite panel of neutral umpires. This system clearly doesn't work as there are many excellent ( and possibly far better than currently available) English umpires that are not willing to travel the world and so cannot umpire a home Test match - Peter Willey to name but one. Yet we have to agree with the will of the ICC. The BCCI should do the same

The real problem that occurs with DRS, like any method used to gauge whether a batsman is out etc is the standard of the umpire himself. This is where the problem lies and the source behind the controversies on day one of the pal at Old Trafford.

The main source of controversy in the Aussie first innings was the dismissal of Usman Khawaja. The Aussie batsman had been dismissed by Umpire Hill after being adjudged to have nicked a ball from Spin King Graeme Swann. The decision was then reviewed by Khawaja, though interestingly not immediately as some have chosen to remember, he did delay the referral for a few moments. The replayed footage clearly showed no mark on Hotspot, there was daylight between bat and ball. In addition,  there was a small noise but from the pictures it clearly appeared to be as a result of the bat hitting the pad rather than the ball.

DRS was clearly doing its job - an incorrect decision by on on-field umpire has going to be overturned as the evidence clearly suggested that he had got it wrong. However, third umpire Kumar Dharmasena was apparently looking at a completely different piece of film footage as he told Hill to stick with his original decision. Cue furore in the commentary box, with Shane Warne rightly calling it a terrible decision. It may seem odd that I happen to be agreeing with anything Shane Warne says, but let me redeem myself immediately by mentioning later on that he went on to spout some absolute clap trap of the highest order. The controversy even found its way to diplomatic circles with even the Aussie Prime Minister Kevin Rudd tweeting "That was one of the worst cricket umpiring decisions I have ever seen".

And that Mr Rudd is exactly the point - it was a terrible decision - but it wasn't the fault of DRS, it was a fault of human interpretation of technology. It would exactly the same if the on-field umpire had given a batsmen not out lbw when the ball was clearly going to hit middle stump, we would have had the same level of controversy surely? 

Smith lbw bowled Broad - er, not

Well actually it seems not. England had used their final review up when they were certain that a ball from Jimmy Anderson was believed to have been nicked to keeper Matt Prior - Jimmy was clearly sure the batsman had touched it, it was a clear noise but umpire Erasmus gave it not out. The Hotspot referral again showed no mark, the noise was clear, but doubt was there. This time the 3rd umpire did precisely what he should have done with Khawaja's referral, 

he said not enough evidence to give it out. Inconsistency in human decision making, not DRS.

The problem was further compounded when shortly after, Stuart Broad clearly had Smith out lbw, but unbelievably the umpire gave it not out.

For some strange reason, the fact that England were clearly too on the wrong end of human umpiring decisions seems to have been ignored. The Khawaja decision was clearly wrong - he should never have been given out. However, the Smith lbw decision in my eyes was just as clearly wrong - yet the emphasis seems to be on the DRS orientated decision. 

DRS is not the problem, if anything the matches in the series have showed more than ever that it was a series of human mistakes, in both onfield decisions and with the use of technology. Or is it? For only yesterday an Australian newspaper that shall remain nameless ( libel laws and all that) ran a story about the ICC investigating the use of silicone tape being used by unnamed English & Aussie batsmen to mask the effects of Hotspot. Well I say 'unnamed players' because they did actually name one player, a certain MR Kevin Pietersen - poor old KP, I can completely understand why he gets so pissed off with the media - no clear evidence of doing something (that isn't actually illegal) and he's the only only one 'outed'. 

Blimey - I didn't mean to go on so much about that, its easy to forget that there was actually a very, very good cricket match going on. 

The god of English cricket proclaims "Let there be rain"
And there was rain. And it was good.
Well it would have been very good. If not for the weather this could have been something of a classic finish to a Test match. The Aussies needed to bat again and they needed to bat fast. Their 172 in 36 overs looks pretty fast - but i would argue that Clarke and his peeps made a serous misjudgment of the time. Captain Cook and his team were never going to chase down a big score on the final day or so, there was far too much at stake of the sometime negative approach argued by some that is employed by modern Cricket England. Australia were already in a commanding position well before finally setting England a target of 332 - they should have declared much earlier. Yet little is being made of this, for if the roles had of been reversed then Cook and Flower would be being hung drawn and quartered in the sporting press for wasting time.

After losing Cook, Trott (who looks woefully out of form) and KP  to reduce us to 37-3 panic was starting to reach even this most optimistic of bloggers - but soon the rain was here in abundance.

I've read once or twice over the past couple of days that hoping for rain to save a match is rather,pathetic and very English. Apparently, we're in the realms of only something and England Cricket supporter would say or hope for - after all, an Australian, South African or any other national would hope for the same? Erm, of course not. Lord give me strength! Were we outplayed by the better team? Yes we were. Would we have lost the Test match if the weather had not of intervened? Possibly. Have England ever lost out to the weather? Yes. Do I care that we retained the Ashes this way? Not one jot.

The simple fact is that England have held the Ashes for four out of the last five Ashes series. That one fact is a remarkable and beautiful thing.

Let me out it another way…….. The little beauty below is RETAINED.

Some parts of this piece feature in the marvellous website - I'm now a featured writer there you know!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A short pre-amble before the 3rd Ashes Test

So the dust has settled after the 347 run victory for England in the 2nd Test at Lord's. It's only about 10 days ago and yet seems like months.  The hyperbolic comments from many of my fellow England fans who have been daring to mention the 'Whitewash' word have thankfully receded……for a while anyway. Will we win the series 5-0? Well I for one doubt it, I firmly believe that there is still a sting in the tail of this series. After all, I'm English and I do pessimism very well thank you. Experience of watching the various incarnations of English teams overs the years has taught me never to get carried away with false expectation….. and I'm not going to start now. The fact that I have mentioned the 'W' word means that yet again it has been discussed, bugger.

John Harnden explains the new 26 week, 756 game
format of the 2015 World cup
Some of you may be wondering why I haven't started this article with a mention of the ICC announcement this week of the pools for the Cricket world cup. Well there I've mentioned it…..For those of you that don't know me - and I know that includes most of the planet - I love Test Cricket beyond all else, though I can watch and often enjoy one-dayers at a pinch. As for the T20 version of the game, well as far as I'm concerned then the sooner it is removed from the International calendar the better. Yes it's a fun and and exciting form of the game, but it it in no way should ever detract from what I and many believe is the most challenging form of cricket. And as for the razzmatazz and bling of T20, well I'm sorry but Test Cricket at it's best is still the most exciting version of god's won game that there is. I know that will annoy and upset many - well everyone is entitled to their opinion. 

However, my true cricket love is the Test and I truly feel in recent years that the powers that be from the vast majority of the governing boards haven't helped promote the original format of the game enough. In fact, it seems to me that it's almost as if some boards would particularly care if Test cricket disappeared some day. I know the fact that I don't hold T20 and it's various competition incarnations in much high regard will upset many people - so feel free to express your, disagreements,  opinions, either here or directly to my blog Facebook page at I will listen to your opinions, thoughts and beliefs - and then tell you that you are wrong :-)

But that rant is for another time - this article is about the Ashes…...

I did wonder what the gap in between Test matches was going to bring. After all, the period building up to the first Test saw enough excitement and theatre within the Australian camp to fill the plot of a bad (not that there's actually a good one) soap opera. Well to be perfectly honest it's all been a little quiet.....The Aussies drew their warm-up county game, Daren Lehman is still the coach, Michael Clarke thinks they'll win the series 3-2 and their premier fast bowler, Mr Pattison followed the current tried and tested Aussie fashion of leaving a tour, though this time due to injury - not a missed homework card to be seen on this occasion. 
David Warner aims a ball at Joe Root
in the crowd.
(Getty Images)

Oh yes, and there is the situation of a certain Mr Warner. His story is by now much discussed having been previously sent away from the Aussie squad after an entertaining series of various misdemeanours. He subsequently became part of the Aussie A tour of South Africa - so what could possibly go wrong there? Well this week he was re-recalled from the A tour following a misdemeanour after umpires were forced to step in to separate the batsman from South African wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile after words were exchanged during the game. Well at least he didn't wait until 2am in the morning to have a word this time - progress! - It doesn't seem like they were swapping twitter addresses for a start.

So partly in attempt to replenish the Test squad Mr Warner was subsequently recalled back to England - the fact that in between verbals with Tsolkile he also managed to score a few runs - well that's handy then......cue further misdemeanours in the Manchester nightclubs??

What about the England team? - well the Old Trafford pitch is traditionally good for both pace and and spin. So going by the previous two predictions by 'experts' about the pitches then that means that this all probably be a batsman's paradise…. Poor old Graham Onions has been jettisoned from the squad - lord knows what he has done to upset the powers that be at the ECB. So too has Steven Finn, who is woefully short of form and confidence.

Monty does his best YMCA audition (Getty Images)

Spin king Monty Panesar has been recalled to the squad for what could be his first competitive home Ashes match since his heroics in Cardiff in 2009. I love Monty, but I'm not sure whether he will get a place in the starting line-up due to the England managements reticence in operating two spinners in the same team - partly I suspect influenced by the fact that Monty's batting and fielding is as good as mine ever was my athletic peak - and  my batting abilities were quite frankly complete pants. I don't expect him to take the place of Tim Bresnan - but of course I've been wrong (on infinite occasions) before and I'm sure I will be again.

The addition of Chris Tremlett and James Taylor to the England squad are of equal interest - Taylor in particular has been mentioned for some time as something of a golden boy in waiting. The fact that he is only about 10 Cm's tall has possibly held him back so far. However it seems that he me get a chance to add to his two Test appearances that took place against South Africa as Kevin Pieterson is still nursing an injured ego…..

The full England squad for the 3rd Test is: 
Alastair Cook (Essex, capt), 
James Anderson (Lancashire), 
Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire), 
Ian Bell (Warwickshire), 
Tim Bresnan (Yorkshire), 
Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), 
Monty Panesar (Sussex), 
Kevin Pietersen (Surrey), 
Matt Prior (Sussex, wk), 
Joe Root (Yorkshire), 
Graeme Swann (Nottinghamshire), 
James Taylor (Nottinghamshire), 
Chris Tremlett (Surrey), 
Jonathan Trott (Warwickshire).

So the 3rd Ashes Test is almost upon us. Do I expect the Aussies to fight and come back at us? Yes I certainly do. We should bear in mind that they can bat far better than they have already in the series, plus on two occasions England have been 3 wickets down for only 30 odd runs. Their confidence may have been shattered during the Lord's Test match, but 10 days to recuperate and play well in a warm up game will have benefitted. Plus Mr Warner has returned, and forget all the nonsense around him and his behaviour because that man can play. 

However the point of the problems for one or two of our batsmen scoring should also concern the Aussies - Captain Marvellous Cook has yet to put a reasonable score on the board, similarly the same goes for KP. I do think that England will win - god i hope they do!

A slightly shorter version of this piece features in the marvellous website - I'm now a featured writer there you know!