Action: second Test December 1, 2006

Shocking selection, stolid batting

Until Duncan Fletcher came along in 1999, the England team had some powerful traditions
49

Until Duncan Fletcher came along in 1999, the England team had some powerful traditions. The selection was haphazard and irresponsible. The bowling was inconsistent. And the batting, with the odd glorious exception, was apt to be stolid. All three of these tendencies, Fletcher and his men now seem hell-bent on restoring.

Adelaide, the most old-fashioned of Australia’s Test grounds, produced an old-fashioned day of vigilance and attrition on one side, perseverance and mind games on the other, and perfect balance overall. In other words, Test cricket.

England did well to lose only three wickets, but Australia did well to concede only three an over (even allowing for a squishy outfield). If you play the old trick of adding two wickets, something the new ball may yet deliver, then Australia are slightly on top. The pitch is so dry that the time to make runs is in the first innings. England could be all out for 350, as they were last time at Adelaide, from a similar position. Or they could push on to 500 – and still concede a first-innings lead.

The pitch has turned so much, so early, that England’s most likely wicket-taker would have been Monty Panesar. If he was playing. When he was left out last week, it was the most depresssing England selection for 14 years. But this was worse, because Adelaide is more of a spinners’ ground, and because the bowling was so toothless at Brisbane without him. He should have been the second bowler on the team sheet, after Flintoff.

England’s selection policy has gone to pieces on this tour. Bowl rubbish and your place is unquestioned. Bowl really well, early in your Test career, and you get dropped. Miss a year through injury and you can have your place straight back, even though you haven’t taken any wickets to speak of – and didn’t take many in the past. With values like that, the management hardly deserve to get back into the series.

The batsmen, however, do. Too limited to take the Edgbaston 05 route and bash their way out of a corner, the top order opted to do it by blocking. Ian Bell, so fluent against Pakistan a few months ago, turned into Chris Tavare in Brisbane, and stayed in that mode for two hours today. Off his first 95 balls, he scored just 23. Here was the doughty rearguard the traditionalists were calling for last weekend. They shall not pass. All shall sleep.

It was impressive, but also in danger of being self-defeating. Paul Collingwood was better, busier, smarter at finding the gaps in an intricate field. For possibly the first time, Ricky Ponting was in danger of being too clever. Why did Stuart Clark only have a few more overs than Michael Clarke?

Eventually Bell emerged from his shell, and he was rocking along – 37 off his last 53 balls – when he got suckered into a Strauss-style hook. He has now reached 50 four times against Australia without getting beyond 60. He is a fine supporting player, but a no. 3 needs to be more than that.

It was left to Kevin Pietersen to bring some modernity to the game. For the third Test in a row, he had the better of a thrilling duel with Warne. The old boy had been back to his best in the first two sessions – probing and threatening, yet going for no more than two an over.

Bell managed only nine off 44 balls from him. Pietersen faced Warne nearly as much, 42 balls, and smacked them around for 29. Collingwood, foraging astutely, has collected 43 off 69 balls from Warne. Between them, these three have given England a chance to make Australia’s elderly geniuses really feel their age.

Tim de Lisle is the editor of Intelligent Life magazine and a former editor of Wisden

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Daniel Minford on December 4, 2006, 10:18 GMT

    So let me get this straight... one of the advantages of playing Ashley Giles over Panesar is his FIELDING? He cost England 110 runs when he dropped Ponting yesterday. Not to mention the initiative.

    Watching Giles bowling today (Monday) was painful and embarrassing. The man has no business playing test cricket for England. Kevin Pietersen is a superior spin bowler, so if we are picking spinners for their batting ability, let's put Giles on a plane home, give KP the spinning duties, and stick Ed Joyce in the middle order.

    England retaining the Ashes from this point will be dependent on their ability to take 20 wickets in a match, and this means with the old ball as well as the new. Spinners are specialist old ball bowlers. Giles CANNOT TAKE WICKETS. Not only this, but his long, negative spells not only bore the opposition and the crowd, but kill the morale and momentum of his own team.

    Well done to Giles for recovering from a serious injury, but something better came along while he was away, and it's time for him to be retired. Giles poor bowling and catching has probably cost England victory in this match.

  • Edd Oliver on December 3, 2006, 23:17 GMT

    I'm almost as amazed at the comment above about 'Monty will cost us 40 runs per game in the field and 40 with the bat' as Fletcher's boneheaded selections so far in this series. Seeing as Giles's drop of Ponting yesterday cost 107 runs i'd like to see the original poster now back this comment up! Monty's fielding isn't great but he might cost us 10 runs per innings max on a bad day, and his batting (namely the 26 he made on a raging turner at Trent Bridge against Muralitharan) shows promise. Thoroughly agree that his non-selection was the most disappointing England pick since Gooch left Gower out of the 1992-3 India Tour, for similar 'jobs for the boys' reasons. With Panesar we'd have a good chance of winning this test now, as it is i can't see it being anything other than a draw or perhaps an Aussie win if they avoid the follow-on and Warne gets his act together.

  • Paul Mundell on December 3, 2006, 16:32 GMT

    Apologies Chris for the mis-spelling. As you can see it was nearly midnight and the eyes are not what they used to be. Keep working hard - your chance will come again.

  • harshik on December 3, 2006, 15:21 GMT

    does fletcher expect his batsman to keep wicket and bowl? if not why not? he expects wicketkeeper and bowlers to bat.

  • Pete Smith on December 3, 2006, 13:33 GMT

    Totally agree with the posts about Jones as well. Just looking at his stats on cricinfo, highest score in the last 12 innings is 33?? I admit Chris Read is hardly the most brilliant batsman as well but he has to be a better bet than Jones. I really hope Jones proves me wrong and posts a decent score at some point but he just doesn't look capable of it. Out of his depth at test level. Also agree with the Monty posts, lets back our batsman to get runs and the bowlers to get wickets. So that means putting in a bowler who can get wickets - Panesar and not Giles who might just get 20 or 30 down the order. If we play Mahmood he can do that job and actually bowl people out at the same time!

  • Pete Smith on December 3, 2006, 13:25 GMT

    Absolutely agree with some of the posts below. I'm not a cricket expert like most of you guys undoubtedly are but i just can't understand the selection of James Anderson. Mahmood played in the summer and agreed he could be eratic at times but he seems like a really good prospect as well as a semi decent lower order batsman who is guaranteed to get more runs than Anderson. He also seems to bowl better than him as well so I'm a bit mystified as to why he's been left out. Could any of you guys explain?!

  • Paul Mundell on December 2, 2006, 23:48 GMT

    I hope Fletcher takes public opinion on board. His selection decisions on this tour have been a nonsense. Sure Monty was a must to play in this match but lets not forget the gloveman in possesion who had done no wrong. As Gold B.... Jones failed again on a feather bed, Reid should be re-called for Perth where the edges will fly faster than ever and Jones will be more than likely to drop the Ashes. Reids treatment has reached a new low and breaks all the rules of selection ethic and man management, At least we can rest assured that new coach Rod Marrsh will restore some sense to proceedings. Yes win lose or draw Fletcher its time to go.... you have lost the plot!

  • Stephen Clarke on December 2, 2006, 19:27 GMT

    I'd like to apologise on behalf of my country for the disgusting behaviour of that little brat Shane Warne. His openly jeering at vanquished opponents and throwing cricket balls at batsmen's heads doesn't reflect the attitude of most Australians to sport. I don't understand why the umpires didn't react at the time, or what match referees are for if not to enforce acceptable behaviour on the field and penalise players who foul the cricket environment the way Warne regularly does. I hope England retain the Ashes purely because Australia continues to select this idiot, and I find this admission surprisingly easy to make.

  • Tom on December 2, 2006, 18:34 GMT

    I fully agree with Giles selection. Monty will cost us 40 runs in the field and 40 runs (20 per innings) with the bat. Add to that his lack of experience and his poor showing in the warm up matches (where even Harmison did ok) and there is no wonder about his non-selection. Giles bowled better than him in those games, so he played. Simple - Giles other benefits were just that - extras.

  • TYU on December 2, 2006, 17:55 GMT

    Agreed, and as someone else pointed out, if Giles is selected for his batting, why is Anderson selected when he is a worse batsmen than Monty? This is a disgrace and I don't see England winning. Actually in my opinion England lost the Ashes when Fletcher dropped Read and selected Jones. 3 stupid selections. Giles couldn't even make it into the Bangladesh side or play for an aussie state team.

  • Daniel Minford on December 4, 2006, 10:18 GMT

    So let me get this straight... one of the advantages of playing Ashley Giles over Panesar is his FIELDING? He cost England 110 runs when he dropped Ponting yesterday. Not to mention the initiative.

    Watching Giles bowling today (Monday) was painful and embarrassing. The man has no business playing test cricket for England. Kevin Pietersen is a superior spin bowler, so if we are picking spinners for their batting ability, let's put Giles on a plane home, give KP the spinning duties, and stick Ed Joyce in the middle order.

    England retaining the Ashes from this point will be dependent on their ability to take 20 wickets in a match, and this means with the old ball as well as the new. Spinners are specialist old ball bowlers. Giles CANNOT TAKE WICKETS. Not only this, but his long, negative spells not only bore the opposition and the crowd, but kill the morale and momentum of his own team.

    Well done to Giles for recovering from a serious injury, but something better came along while he was away, and it's time for him to be retired. Giles poor bowling and catching has probably cost England victory in this match.

  • Edd Oliver on December 3, 2006, 23:17 GMT

    I'm almost as amazed at the comment above about 'Monty will cost us 40 runs per game in the field and 40 with the bat' as Fletcher's boneheaded selections so far in this series. Seeing as Giles's drop of Ponting yesterday cost 107 runs i'd like to see the original poster now back this comment up! Monty's fielding isn't great but he might cost us 10 runs per innings max on a bad day, and his batting (namely the 26 he made on a raging turner at Trent Bridge against Muralitharan) shows promise. Thoroughly agree that his non-selection was the most disappointing England pick since Gooch left Gower out of the 1992-3 India Tour, for similar 'jobs for the boys' reasons. With Panesar we'd have a good chance of winning this test now, as it is i can't see it being anything other than a draw or perhaps an Aussie win if they avoid the follow-on and Warne gets his act together.

  • Paul Mundell on December 3, 2006, 16:32 GMT

    Apologies Chris for the mis-spelling. As you can see it was nearly midnight and the eyes are not what they used to be. Keep working hard - your chance will come again.

  • harshik on December 3, 2006, 15:21 GMT

    does fletcher expect his batsman to keep wicket and bowl? if not why not? he expects wicketkeeper and bowlers to bat.

  • Pete Smith on December 3, 2006, 13:33 GMT

    Totally agree with the posts about Jones as well. Just looking at his stats on cricinfo, highest score in the last 12 innings is 33?? I admit Chris Read is hardly the most brilliant batsman as well but he has to be a better bet than Jones. I really hope Jones proves me wrong and posts a decent score at some point but he just doesn't look capable of it. Out of his depth at test level. Also agree with the Monty posts, lets back our batsman to get runs and the bowlers to get wickets. So that means putting in a bowler who can get wickets - Panesar and not Giles who might just get 20 or 30 down the order. If we play Mahmood he can do that job and actually bowl people out at the same time!

  • Pete Smith on December 3, 2006, 13:25 GMT

    Absolutely agree with some of the posts below. I'm not a cricket expert like most of you guys undoubtedly are but i just can't understand the selection of James Anderson. Mahmood played in the summer and agreed he could be eratic at times but he seems like a really good prospect as well as a semi decent lower order batsman who is guaranteed to get more runs than Anderson. He also seems to bowl better than him as well so I'm a bit mystified as to why he's been left out. Could any of you guys explain?!

  • Paul Mundell on December 2, 2006, 23:48 GMT

    I hope Fletcher takes public opinion on board. His selection decisions on this tour have been a nonsense. Sure Monty was a must to play in this match but lets not forget the gloveman in possesion who had done no wrong. As Gold B.... Jones failed again on a feather bed, Reid should be re-called for Perth where the edges will fly faster than ever and Jones will be more than likely to drop the Ashes. Reids treatment has reached a new low and breaks all the rules of selection ethic and man management, At least we can rest assured that new coach Rod Marrsh will restore some sense to proceedings. Yes win lose or draw Fletcher its time to go.... you have lost the plot!

  • Stephen Clarke on December 2, 2006, 19:27 GMT

    I'd like to apologise on behalf of my country for the disgusting behaviour of that little brat Shane Warne. His openly jeering at vanquished opponents and throwing cricket balls at batsmen's heads doesn't reflect the attitude of most Australians to sport. I don't understand why the umpires didn't react at the time, or what match referees are for if not to enforce acceptable behaviour on the field and penalise players who foul the cricket environment the way Warne regularly does. I hope England retain the Ashes purely because Australia continues to select this idiot, and I find this admission surprisingly easy to make.

  • Tom on December 2, 2006, 18:34 GMT

    I fully agree with Giles selection. Monty will cost us 40 runs in the field and 40 runs (20 per innings) with the bat. Add to that his lack of experience and his poor showing in the warm up matches (where even Harmison did ok) and there is no wonder about his non-selection. Giles bowled better than him in those games, so he played. Simple - Giles other benefits were just that - extras.

  • TYU on December 2, 2006, 17:55 GMT

    Agreed, and as someone else pointed out, if Giles is selected for his batting, why is Anderson selected when he is a worse batsmen than Monty? This is a disgrace and I don't see England winning. Actually in my opinion England lost the Ashes when Fletcher dropped Read and selected Jones. 3 stupid selections. Giles couldn't even make it into the Bangladesh side or play for an aussie state team.

  • Aditya on December 2, 2006, 15:33 GMT

    My God, did they just persist with the same attack that got hammered in Brisbane? That's like inviting the Australian batsmen over to lunch and asking them to pick the menu. In my opinion, England should have tried playing two spinners, just to mix it up. I think Harmison's pace and bounce is overrated. Flintoff can be pretty quick when he needs to, so Harmison should have definitely been rested. Now that the England batsmen have put up a big score, it remains to be seen whether the same bowling attack can take it to Australia. Interestingly, Australia were under the pump when they played against India back in 2003 at Adelaide. So in recent times this ground hasn't exactly been good for them.

  • Dreama on December 2, 2006, 14:44 GMT

    Every one is dancing around the real issues; fact of the matter is Monty does not fit the profile of an England team Fletcher wants.

  • Stuart Fraser on December 2, 2006, 14:07 GMT

    Right at this very moment, I for one cannot find it in me to criticise the English selection; admittedly this will change, but, in light of the magnificent and illustrious innings just witnessed, a part of me feels optimism being rekindled. That other people considered this boring I can understand, but looking at it in the light of the end result, I could watch the innings over and over again without any regret.

  • Krishna KBS on December 2, 2006, 13:42 GMT

    Yes, will admit that I too was suprised -- make it shocked -- at the omission of Panesar; but on second thoughts, it might be a good idea. Panesar, for all his talent, is still a rookie, and it might not be such a wonderful thing to throw him to the wolves -- in other words, the Aussies! Further, Panesar, though a good spinner, cannot bowl on turning pitches. That sounds like an oxymoron --- but throw back your mind, and remember that it was Udal who picked up the wickets in Mumbai. Of course, that was early in his career; but he isn't a veteran even now. Panesar is a spinner who seems to enjoy bowling more in seaming conditions. Don't ask me how this can happen; but that is what his record suggests. Probably he is overwhelmed by spinning pitches. Weird? Yes, but apparently true.

  • Michael Drinkwater on December 2, 2006, 11:32 GMT

    I've been depressed since the moment before the first test when Panesar was dropped, and will continue to be until he and Read or back - or until Fletcher has gone. I don't think he is going to take England further, not unless his views in team selection can be better balanced. Even if Giles gets any wickets, one knows that Monty could get more, earlier, and the bigger names. What one needs to win a test on a wicket like this. And given the runs scored by the batsmen, its even more of a travesty that Panesar is not playing. As for the views that he didn't bowl well in the warm-ups, well, he did not bowl badly at all, and is he supposed to get used to Australian conditions in his first two matches? He'd have learned by now what he has to do to maximise his ability to get wickets in these conditions.

  • Richard Woolley on December 2, 2006, 11:31 GMT

    I agree that Panesar's omission is a disgrace. I would like Fletcher to explain clearly his reasons for not including him after the match regardless of the result. It's obvious he doesn't rate him as highly as others. Also, does Fred want him in the side? Does he have a say anyway? Is Fletcher the sole selector? I think this issue could cause Fletcher to lose his job. A bust-up between Graveney and Fletcher could be on the way.

  • db on December 2, 2006, 10:59 GMT

    does anyone agree with the selection so far this tour?

  • Daniel Minford on December 2, 2006, 10:42 GMT

    I totally agree that Monty should have been picked for this game. I do however think that everyone is missing a crucial point in this Giles Vs Panesar debate, which is that England seem to be seriously entertaining the possibility that Pietersen could become an all-rounder for them. He did start his career as an off-spinner, taking a 4 wicket haul against England in a tour match several years ago in SA. He himself has expressed a desire to develop his bowling. At the Gabba he was as accurate as Giles, and he turned the ball A LOT more. I genuinely believe that the long term plan for the England test lineup is to have KP and MP as their two frontline spinning options. This way they can drop Panesar in favour of an extra batter if the pitch isn't turning, and bring him in if it does. Giles is in the team at the moment, but you should see Pietersen bowl at least 10 overs in Australia's first innings tomorrow. I hope! This theory could be complely fubar, I just have this feeling about Pietersen. I'm sure the England management can see what a boost to England it would be if his aggression and attitude could also be injected into their bowling attacks in the future.

  • JON BOWLAND on December 2, 2006, 9:49 GMT

    Happier now Tim? Or is 551/6 dec still evidence of Fletcher's rank incompetence? Anyone can see that, Stuart Clark aside, Australia's bowlers are poised on the edge of the precipice of old age. Go and watch McGrath's attempt to catch Pietersen on the penultimate ball of day one, and his rheumatic stoop to retrieve that ball, if you doubt it. The way to break Australia is to keep them out there, deny them the quick and regular wickets that would reinvigorate flagging bodies, and mix in judicious attack when the time is right. England broke Gillespie in the last series, McGrath and Warne may well follow in this. Agree about Panesar, by the way.

  • duke on December 2, 2006, 7:09 GMT

    Is Monty being protected from a run-fest?

    Perhaps Fletcher wants to save him from a potential mauling at Adelaide so that he can introduce him, with confidence and "mystique" still intact, later in the series

  • Omer Admani on December 2, 2006, 4:48 GMT

    The pitch historically spins on the last two days. With such a good start for England, it would be interesting to see if Monty--his absence-- might be the difference between a win and a draw this time. Personal opinion: Fletcher has got it wrong again.

  • Greg Cook on December 2, 2006, 1:59 GMT

    It is pathetic that the wicket is so batter friendly ,meaning whoever wins the toss can bat for over two days if they want,no matter how good the bowling is.Boring to watch and a waste of time.Enough to turn people off cricket!

  • kathy on December 2, 2006, 1:45 GMT

    I have more faith in Fletcher than I do in cricket pundits who tend to rewrite history every month. Monty didn't even bowl that well in the warm-ups. Who knows how he'd perform in the Tests? There's an awful lot of assuming going on. And loyalty to a line-up is an enormous influence on morale. I'm not quite sure how Fletcher is supposed to have changed from a hero to an idiot in the space of a year.

  • will on December 2, 2006, 0:59 GMT

    Every available member of england's ashes winning team is playing currently. Coincidence? No! Fact is Fletcher is making selection decisions based on personal rather than cricketing reasons. Winning the ashes was massive to Fletcher on a personal level (a factor usually overlooked) - basically it probably set him up for the rest of his life financially. Those players won it for him and now the deal is he cant drop them - sad but true. If Vaughan proves himself half fit you can bet yr life he'll be back in the team...

  • Paddles on December 1, 2006, 23:10 GMT

    I agree with Tim, it is a ridiculous decision, almost disgraceful and I can only fathom there must be more to it because it defies belief. I cannot see what the risk would have been in selecting Panesar over another quick bowler in this test - most likely Anderson - because at the Gabba Anderson was mediocre at best and this on a supposedly bowler friendly pitch. How is he expected to show any improvement and trouble the Australian lineup on one of the best test pitches in the world? I think the only team who could rightfully enter a test in Adelaide with a four prong pace attack would have been the Windies in the 80s - England is hardly that. It can only be assumed that either Fletcher is either trying to protect him from a pre-meditated Australian assault on his bowling, or that he doesn't back him. If the former is true, then it shows a massive lack of courage on Fletcher's part as Australia have a clear historic weakness against left arm spin from the likes of Vettori to even Giles who has somehow managed to take wickets against Australia. The likelihood of Panesar being destroyed is unlikely. If it is the latter then Fletcher again is weak as I think Panesar would relish the challenge - I mean his first test wicket was Sachin Tendulkar so he obviously can make the step up. His decision reeks of cowardness and it is extremely lucky Flintoff won the toss as it would have been a very long day in the field today if they bowled first. I would like to know if anyone knows how much involvement Flintoff or others would have had in the decision?

  • Dave on December 1, 2006, 22:55 GMT

    I think what you're all missing is that you can't pick a guy who spins it too much when you don't have a decent keeper behind the stumps!!! Jones has to go in favour of Reed - then Monty can come in place of Giles. And while we're at it, Mahmood for Anderson. Then we have an attack that's at least capable (on it's day maybe!) of taking 20 wickets. Best case in this game I fear is a draw.

  • Ghalib Imtiyaz Ahmad on December 1, 2006, 22:43 GMT

    With the current bowling attack England can never bowl Australia out twice. Whether or not Harmison fires ... Giles doesnt even turn the ball. To me a part timer M Clark is a better bowler or equivalent to Giles. So i dont foresee how Giles can get more than 1 wicket. If there is anyone who could have had more wickets in this pitch it would have been Monty as the other pitches wont assist him as much and thus a belated selection for Monty wont do him any favours as it would be too little to late. I didnt mind Sajid Mahmood not being selected as the next test match would have the ideal pitch for him. Harmison deserved another match but not Anderson ... Australia couldnt believe their luck when they saw the name of the same 4 bowlers who were anything but dismal performers ... and even if England scores 500+ Australia wont have a problem chasing that and they will score very quickly as English bowling lineup is one of the worst in living memory anf Flintoff is the only exception. Given that they had 3 quicks anyway they could have used 2 spinners.

  • Adam Pushkin on December 1, 2006, 21:08 GMT

    Only disagree with Tim on one point. The depressing selection of 14 years ago I assume he's talking about was when David Gower was left out of the tour of India. And yes, that was depressing, and the outcome disastrous, but at least Gower was at the end of his career anyway.

    Monty is the future. So i think this could in fact be the most depressing England selection for 38 years. Cheers, Dunc. Nice one.

  • Andrew Keogh on December 1, 2006, 19:08 GMT

    Completely agree about boneheaded perversity of selection policy. Supposing England actually post a large total and then need to bowl Australia twice in three days when who would be a better banker than Monty? It doesn't take a great deal of imagination to see him cause serious damage. it does take a lot of imagination to see Giles doing the same. While on the subject of slection, what would have been wrong with Sajid Mahmood instead of Anderson? Okay, he can be erratic but Anderson was hardly a model of consistency at Brisbane - plus Mahmood is starting to look a credible lower order batsman. Fletcher's inflexibility is in danger of being a serious handicap. Rod Marsh for coach after the inevitable World Cup mess-up (if he'll do it!)

  • Richard on December 1, 2006, 17:48 GMT

    Fletcher seems to be missing a few tricks on this tour so far.How it is possible to go into a test match with the bowling attack against Aus ( old players or not they are still producing the goods ) and on the track that has been produced, is incredible. The odds on Ponting and co smashing 600 again must be very short. The England batsmen have shown real fight and need to be comended. KP and Collingwood need to make it count though, Warn will start taking wickets it is just a matter of time. Fletcher needs a wake up call and here is the obvious difference between Flintoff and Vaughn, even Strauss to an extent, neither of the later would allow themselvs to be railroaded into accepting inept bowling line up both would be very firm. Good luck to the England fielders as the so called Aussie old timers will make them chase leather for at least 2 days and score about 750 for 4 thanks to Fletch.

  • Aidan on December 1, 2006, 17:07 GMT

    Not playing Panesar was an unbelieveable decision. It seems if England wanted to retain balance they should have played Mahmood at 8 for Giles and Panesar for Anderson. Or just gambled on the 4 number 11's.

  • james on December 1, 2006, 16:01 GMT

    Am i the only person who felt they had been smacked in the head, when they heard monty was not playing? When your number five batsmen turns the ball more than your No1???spinner you got to be worried!!

  • Andy on December 1, 2006, 15:49 GMT

    Duncan fletcher allways supported him till now, Why are we sacrificing 2 possibly 3 wickets a match for 20 runs??? It makes no sense.

  • MARTIN ROBINSON on December 1, 2006, 15:44 GMT

    Agreed Monty had to play this test, how on earth can you not pick a guy who is a wicket taker and can be trusted to tie an end up, we should have played 2 spinners and dropped Anderson. The selection policy is becoming a joke and Monty's face doesen't seem to fit.

  • Bush on December 1, 2006, 15:38 GMT

    Tim, I agree with your views on the selection (or omission rather) of Panesar. Panesar could have been selected ahead of Mr Anderson. I have said earlier, I believe in Fletcher (and he obviously trusts his instincts), Giles is okay being in the team. After all, he has shown his worth as a batsman. It is unclear that Flintoff's batting will prove effective at #6 and Jones is better off batting behind Giles. Panesar is likely to get more wickets than Anderson and probably score the same runs on average. All this is to say that England may fail to win this match all because of one wickettaker short and he is Panesar. Englan's got somehting going on here and barring rain, I expect them to win the series. By the third test, Panesar will be in and all will be happy.

  • Syed Ahsan Ali on December 1, 2006, 15:06 GMT

    Mcgrath's wicketless day made him so absentminded that he spilled Peitersen in dying moments of the day. Maybe the body is not catching the signals send to it by Pigeon's will. Sorry to say but it might have something to do with his age. Spineless Australian attack look completely pedestrian before Bell committed suicide. Panesar should be in the eleven.It was fun watching Clarke bowled befor tea that shows the depth of this mighty Aussie attack. Stretch them to 500, and expect better form from Harmison. Runs on your back can do to you what it did to Mcgrath on his long awaited comeback.

  • Russell on December 1, 2006, 14:54 GMT

    I think its unfair to criticise the management for sticking with their original selection. It provides a much better atmosphere for players if they know that they wont be dropped after one bad performance. Fletcher has done this consistently over his tenure (inc after lords last year). Id agree panesar has been unlucky, but thats a seperate issue. If England get a draw here and get enough runs on the board, the initiative moves away from Australia.

  • Luke on December 1, 2006, 14:36 GMT

    Panesar's omission is depressing. I had hopoed that he'd be in for Anderson here, my reasoning being that the reverse swing Anderson was picked for is a possibility, the spin a probability. Monty would have taken at least as many wickets as Anderson at a lower cost. The consensus seems to be that an attack with Monty is more likely to take 20 wickets than one without. Moreover, Jones is keeping to lengthen the batting and the assumption before Brisbane was that that meant Monty played. Fletcher should pick the attack he needs rather than wants to take 20 wickets and have a little more faith in his top 7, especially when the wickets are said to be getting slower so that TV gets five days of cricket (was Ponting's second innings at Brisbane designed to keep his C9 paymasters happy?). England need fewer runs to take 20 wickets with Monty in than they do without so the current selection can be justified by saying "Giles is less penetrative so we need a couple of 20s from him to pay for one of his wickets". Conversely, Monty's wickets are cheaper so his runs ought to be irrelevant. Looking back over this, it seems like a lot of elaborate flannel to support a quite simple point. Monty is a better pick than Anderson or Giles, so he plays. Doesn't he?

  • Ashers on December 1, 2006, 14:22 GMT

    Does anyone else sense a showdown in the not too distant future between Fletcher and Graveney? Presumably the outcome of the Ashes series also decides who wins it.

  • Chas on December 1, 2006, 14:17 GMT

    Totally agree Tim. How can they leave out a match-winner like Monty? On a spinning pitch? And play Anderson (no offence Jimmy, but can't see you taking 5 wickets here). The question has to be - who would the Aussies least like to play? And it has to be Monty. I just don't understand it all - very depressing.

  • OpeningBat on December 1, 2006, 14:17 GMT

    The selection methods of Duncan Fletcher are clearly a concern. When Monty was doing well last season he was only ever grudging in his comments for a long time. It is my belief that whatever Monty does Fletcher will be biased against him because Monty is not the bit parts player that Fletcher wants so much. Now, he refuses to select him no matter what the conditions.

    Form or the pitch conditions don't seem to matter. It wouldn't surprise me if Fletcher selected this team purely on the basis that he did the same thing in 2005 after the first test defeat (that is to say no changes after the defeat in the first test in 2005 so he won't make any changes this time regardless of form or pitch conditions).

    Needless to say, this selection is the most depressing thing for English cricket because we have greatly reduced any chance of victory in this test by having no spin option.

  • mas on December 1, 2006, 14:13 GMT

    how can england retain jimmy anderson after his hapless performance in brisbane.and mind u brisbane was more suited to his style of bowling than adelaide. monty should definitely have played in his place. and if england werent comfortable going with 2 spinners then saj mahmood should have played inplace of jimmy andrson.on such a dry wicket, saj's reverse swing skills along with his high pace would have been very very handy. england seem to be mindless regarding their selection policies.

  • Gazzypops on December 1, 2006, 14:02 GMT

    Let's hope this stops the "replace Collingwood with a specialist batsman" comments....

  • MarkC on December 1, 2006, 13:58 GMT

    David's reply to my previous post (David at November 28, 2006 12:06 PM) suggesting that Fletcher always supported Strauss for the captaincy notwithstanding, I feel my endorsement of Boycott's opinion on Fletcher is now more than confirmed.

    I have just watched the highlights of today's play and Warne was turning the ball across twice the width of the stumps on day one. Monty on day 5 would have been unplayable. I find myself in the very strange position of quoting Ricky Ponting:

    "Their other wicket-taking option would be Panesar. He's got a good record in Tests and this pitch will probably suit him more than most around Australia so he'll probably play. "

    Are we sure Fletcher is Zimbabwean rather than Australian?

  • Anil Senghera on December 1, 2006, 13:49 GMT

    Wholeheartedly agree with Tim with the selection deabacle! Absoloute travesty - why isn't Monty judged on the same standards as everyone else. Firstly all this hogwash about Brisbane not taking turn!! -Warne seems to thrive at the Gabba! Remember Headingly last summer!! it was Monty who bowled the Pakistan's out on that spinners 'graveyard'. And now Fletcher leaves out arguably his best bowler (on current form) on potentially Panesar's most suited wicket. Tell me Fletcher who is going to bowl out Ponting, Hayden, Hussey on a wearing wicket on the final day......ill tell you one thing Duncan one thing it wont be Giles.

  • Christopher Bowyer on December 1, 2006, 13:45 GMT

    I too was depressed by the non-selection of Monty. As I didn't follow cricket 14 years ago, could you tell us what selectorial decision in 1992 was worse than this, please?

  • Anthony Light on December 1, 2006, 13:43 GMT

    I too would have liked to see Monty Panesar selected for this game - and indeed the last test too. However, your comments about Ashley Giles are unwarranted. He has delivered in many instances in the past depite the viewpoint of other cynics too! Do not fall into the trap of sniping at the player because the management selected him. If you value English cricket then you need to get behind whoever is selected particularly as in this case he has not even begun to play this test!!

  • Gordon on December 1, 2006, 13:17 GMT

    Tim - you finally managed to write an article I find myself agreeing with from beginning to end ! England's selection increasingly resembles a cosy jobs for the boys club and it is all too familiar and depressing. To Monty's credit, he has kept his spirits and enthusiasm up but it always obvious that Fletcher found it very hard to praise him even when he was bowling really well. The problem is that fletcher's chief role is "coach" and as far as coaching is concerned, England are shambolic. Harmison has been broken for 2 years ( bar the odd spell), our approach to rabbits seems to be to replace them rather than coach them into more productive batsmen and no one seems to have really progressed technically. I believe Fletcher needs to go after the series whatever the result as even a positive result would be despite his presence, not because of it.

  • Max on December 1, 2006, 13:16 GMT

    it's so depressing isn't it... nearly broke my remote when I got home last night to see Monty wasn't in the side. Australia are guaranteed to be 400-4 and Flintoff will be forced to turn to the wheely-bin who would not make it into any major side at the moment. Would Michael Vaughan have picked Monty? You suspect he probably would have done... Fletcher has too much power right now and it shows in his conservative selection and attitude. Surely the weight of opinion of ex-captains and columnists can't be wrong? Freddy - you have to stamp yr feet!

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Max on December 1, 2006, 13:16 GMT

    it's so depressing isn't it... nearly broke my remote when I got home last night to see Monty wasn't in the side. Australia are guaranteed to be 400-4 and Flintoff will be forced to turn to the wheely-bin who would not make it into any major side at the moment. Would Michael Vaughan have picked Monty? You suspect he probably would have done... Fletcher has too much power right now and it shows in his conservative selection and attitude. Surely the weight of opinion of ex-captains and columnists can't be wrong? Freddy - you have to stamp yr feet!

  • Gordon on December 1, 2006, 13:17 GMT

    Tim - you finally managed to write an article I find myself agreeing with from beginning to end ! England's selection increasingly resembles a cosy jobs for the boys club and it is all too familiar and depressing. To Monty's credit, he has kept his spirits and enthusiasm up but it always obvious that Fletcher found it very hard to praise him even when he was bowling really well. The problem is that fletcher's chief role is "coach" and as far as coaching is concerned, England are shambolic. Harmison has been broken for 2 years ( bar the odd spell), our approach to rabbits seems to be to replace them rather than coach them into more productive batsmen and no one seems to have really progressed technically. I believe Fletcher needs to go after the series whatever the result as even a positive result would be despite his presence, not because of it.

  • Anthony Light on December 1, 2006, 13:43 GMT

    I too would have liked to see Monty Panesar selected for this game - and indeed the last test too. However, your comments about Ashley Giles are unwarranted. He has delivered in many instances in the past depite the viewpoint of other cynics too! Do not fall into the trap of sniping at the player because the management selected him. If you value English cricket then you need to get behind whoever is selected particularly as in this case he has not even begun to play this test!!

  • Christopher Bowyer on December 1, 2006, 13:45 GMT

    I too was depressed by the non-selection of Monty. As I didn't follow cricket 14 years ago, could you tell us what selectorial decision in 1992 was worse than this, please?

  • Anil Senghera on December 1, 2006, 13:49 GMT

    Wholeheartedly agree with Tim with the selection deabacle! Absoloute travesty - why isn't Monty judged on the same standards as everyone else. Firstly all this hogwash about Brisbane not taking turn!! -Warne seems to thrive at the Gabba! Remember Headingly last summer!! it was Monty who bowled the Pakistan's out on that spinners 'graveyard'. And now Fletcher leaves out arguably his best bowler (on current form) on potentially Panesar's most suited wicket. Tell me Fletcher who is going to bowl out Ponting, Hayden, Hussey on a wearing wicket on the final day......ill tell you one thing Duncan one thing it wont be Giles.

  • MarkC on December 1, 2006, 13:58 GMT

    David's reply to my previous post (David at November 28, 2006 12:06 PM) suggesting that Fletcher always supported Strauss for the captaincy notwithstanding, I feel my endorsement of Boycott's opinion on Fletcher is now more than confirmed.

    I have just watched the highlights of today's play and Warne was turning the ball across twice the width of the stumps on day one. Monty on day 5 would have been unplayable. I find myself in the very strange position of quoting Ricky Ponting:

    "Their other wicket-taking option would be Panesar. He's got a good record in Tests and this pitch will probably suit him more than most around Australia so he'll probably play. "

    Are we sure Fletcher is Zimbabwean rather than Australian?

  • Gazzypops on December 1, 2006, 14:02 GMT

    Let's hope this stops the "replace Collingwood with a specialist batsman" comments....

  • mas on December 1, 2006, 14:13 GMT

    how can england retain jimmy anderson after his hapless performance in brisbane.and mind u brisbane was more suited to his style of bowling than adelaide. monty should definitely have played in his place. and if england werent comfortable going with 2 spinners then saj mahmood should have played inplace of jimmy andrson.on such a dry wicket, saj's reverse swing skills along with his high pace would have been very very handy. england seem to be mindless regarding their selection policies.

  • OpeningBat on December 1, 2006, 14:17 GMT

    The selection methods of Duncan Fletcher are clearly a concern. When Monty was doing well last season he was only ever grudging in his comments for a long time. It is my belief that whatever Monty does Fletcher will be biased against him because Monty is not the bit parts player that Fletcher wants so much. Now, he refuses to select him no matter what the conditions.

    Form or the pitch conditions don't seem to matter. It wouldn't surprise me if Fletcher selected this team purely on the basis that he did the same thing in 2005 after the first test defeat (that is to say no changes after the defeat in the first test in 2005 so he won't make any changes this time regardless of form or pitch conditions).

    Needless to say, this selection is the most depressing thing for English cricket because we have greatly reduced any chance of victory in this test by having no spin option.

  • Chas on December 1, 2006, 14:17 GMT

    Totally agree Tim. How can they leave out a match-winner like Monty? On a spinning pitch? And play Anderson (no offence Jimmy, but can't see you taking 5 wickets here). The question has to be - who would the Aussies least like to play? And it has to be Monty. I just don't understand it all - very depressing.