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…..

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!

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