December 31, 2006

Planning

Some New Year resolutions

Tim de Lisle

Got your New Year resolutions sorted? Me too (must spend less time blogging). But I wonder if the players have… Here are some friendly suggestions.

John Buchanan shows his delight at Australia winning back the Ashes, Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth, December 18, 2006
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AUSTRALIA Must remember to give opponents a chance. Declining to bring any bowlers out of retirement should do the trick.

Must stop John Buchanan giving press conferences. It’s one area where he and Duncan Fletcher are as bad as each other – one defensive, the other passive-aggressive.

Must see if they can collapse even more dramatically than at Melbourne and still win. Maybe let things go to 84 for 9 this time.

ENGLAND Must play an extra batsman. Kevin Pietersen hasn’t been a place too low at number five – the four men after him have been a place too high. Picking Jamie Dalrymple at seven will help, but Andrew Flintoff, in his present lack of form, will still be too high at six. There’s no point playing five bowlers if the captain doesn’t have faith in them.

Must reach 100 with just one wicket down, something they have managed only in the second innings at Perth.

Must be aggressive with the bat and patient with the ball. Just bowl at the top of off stump: as Matthew Hayden helpfully pointed out, that’s all a Test-match bowling plan needs to say.

Must remember how to play overseas. Since the successful tour of South Africa two years ago, their home record reads won 8 (7 if you disregard the Pakistan forfeit), lost 2, while their away record is won 1, lost 7.

Must not publish any more autobiographies until they have the Ashes back.

SHANE WARNE Must announce his retirement from international hair-replacement ads with immediate effect.

Must agree not to take any more tail-end wickets in this match – they’re beneath him, aren’t they?

ANDREW FLINTOFF Must bat as if he’s no longer captain.

Must keep smiling, even in defeat – Brett Lee showed the way last year.

Must give Monty Panesar an early bowl and a reasonable field.

That's dedication: a gloomy scene at The Rose Bowl as Lancashire's title hopes are washed away, Hampshire v Lancashire, County Championship, The Rose Bowl, September 22, 2006
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GLENN McGRATH Must allow himself to have a tear in his eye, so that he can’t see where he is landing the ball.

Must do something about his batting average. In an age of multi-dimensional cricketers, 7.36 is rubbish. Should aim to finish in double figures, which will mean scoring 237 for once out. If Jason Gillespie can do it …

STEVE HARMISON Must stand up and think of Durham, grab the new ball and repay all the faith that has been placed in him.

DUNCAN FLETCHER Mustn’t play the blame game, unless he is prepared to take some of it himself.

Must take the players to a bar afterwards and have a drink with the travelling fans, whose support has been beyond barmy and well into the realms of certifiable.

THE COUNTIES Must not offer a contract to Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus or anyone called Cullen until at least 2010. Exceptions may be made if the state the player represents offers a contract to a young Englishman in return.

JUSTIN LANGER Must come clean about whether he is retiring. His dad has hinted as much, but that may be just a New Year tradition – an old Langer sign.

Happy New Year.

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

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Posted by Ian Vigar on (January 4, 2007, 20:51 GMT)

Winners make it happen...losers let it happen

Posted by Chris Moody on (January 4, 2007, 12:47 GMT)

Think about ODI squad on day 3 of Final Test, Hang on!! its picked already and retirements won't make any difference!!

Not quite true martyn will not play.

Posted by Don on (January 4, 2007, 10:50 GMT)

Happy New Years Everybody (even if it is somewhat belated on my behalf)

Hey Tim, I thought this was quite a humourous blog, and the best one of yours I've read I have to admit (my oppinion)

As there seems to have been a few misunderstandings between bloggers when sarcasm has been used may I give you all warning...the following contains tongue in cheek... :P

Here goes....

Bring back Rudi!!! He wouldn't have given Gilly out like Bentfinger Billy did, it's all Bentfinger Billy's fault that Warne didn't get his first century in his last test because if Gilly wasn't given out by Billy then Warne wouldn't have had to "throw his bat" and get out for 71 :) Just a thought...

Have a good one everybody and remember, watch the ball (maybe a NY Resolution for Strauss??)

Posted by Aussie Patriot on (January 3, 2007, 22:56 GMT)

G’day Aussie Patriot 2 – glad you’ve come on board to help me take on these whinging Poms. You’re dead right, England were rubbish in 2005. I don’t know for sure, but I think they probably played worse than any other team in the entire history of test cricket ever. Australia, on the other hand, were immense. It was just that they didn’t quite play up to their potential in certain crucial passages of play. Result: we lost the Ashes. Still, that’s past history now, and as I say if the ECB had any decency after the current drubbing they’d do us all a favour and ask for their previous results to be wiped from the record so as to avoid giving the (mistaken) impression to later generations that England were in fact ever good enough to beat Australia. These facts are obvious to impartial observers like you and me, but these Poms just don’t seem to get it!

Posted by Odie on (January 3, 2007, 8:31 GMT)

Gee, Justin? Even I could tell that Aussie Patriot was being sarcastic.

As for your comments on my comments (do try to keep up, Justin), I heartily agree with you...she remains our sovereign. Of course, this means that Queenie is probably just a closet cricket fan who rather enjoys holding onto those of her subjects who have decided to play the game with some heart.

Oh, and Justin, a tip; I don't think Aussie Patriot is really an Australian (but don't tell anyone else, okay?)

PS: My Dad is the biggest Dad in the whole world. So there!

Posted by aussie patriot 2 on (January 3, 2007, 4:05 GMT)

the comments are valid as Aussie patriot has already stated. England were very lucky to win the ashes in 2005. In fact it's not that england won the ashes but rather australia lost them. england never played spectacularly well that they actually won the series definatively but rather asutralia never played to its full potential throu various poor decisions and lack of form. Over the past 18 months england have supposedly been the number 1 side in the world despite rankings and frankly looking at their decision making, team selections and determination to retain the ashes and beat the number 1 team in this series shows they never deserved to have the ashes in the first place. you think Buchanan's bad, the England coach is a selector, biased a little perhaps, and won't accept any responsibiltiy for quite frankly stupid team selections, Read should have always played and don't get me started on giles, monty should have played all 5 tests.

Posted by Justin on (January 2, 2007, 22:25 GMT)

My apologies aussie patriot, I did not spot the irony. I've been in the land of oz to long, I've heard people say stuff like this and mean it too often.

Posted by Aussie Patriot on (January 2, 2007, 16:15 GMT)

Justin my friend, you say you're not English so I'll excuse you your inability to detect a tinge of English irony in my compendium of ludicrous Aussie whinges culled from amongst these pages. Oh and since you mention it, I reckon my Dad probably IS bigger than your Dad...

Aussie Patriot

Posted by Ross on (January 2, 2007, 13:24 GMT)

Another English resolution should be: Have more than one plan - Let's see.... Hoggard's injured, we're playing on a spin friendly pitch, our lower order batting has been non-existant and the Aussie's have been pouring milk and sugar over Anderson's bowling all summer, who are we going to pick - Anderson or Dalrymple? Anderson, of course!

Regarding the overseas players in English counties thing, I thought that this had been put to rest years ago with the consensis being that English cricket has benefitted from exposure to the best international players rather than been harmed.

Australian state sides do occaisionally have overseas players but there are only six sides after all & the minimum standard is thus a bit too high to allow any of the current England players to get a game - Queensland did field Botham a couple of decades ago though and also Graham Thorpe came close to getting a game with NSW 2nd XI so I wouldn't give up hope. Club cricket tends to have a fair sprinkling of English players & I would credit this experience for the fact that many of them have now learnt to hold the bat by the thin end & to point the flat face of it at the bowler. To be fair, Australians playing in county cricket have found that to be a valuable learning experience as well - many of them having never seen a long hop before or knowing what the term 'military medium' meant in practice. So, really, the whole English county/Australian club exchange thing has been a refreshing example of international skill sharing & you do not do yourself credit by poo-pooing.

Cheers

Posted by Justin on (January 2, 2007, 11:35 GMT)

Well some people get three wise men at Christmas, we get KD, Odie and someone calling himself 'Aussie patriot'.

Unlike KD I didn't see Tim's tips as excuses, more harmless fun and self-depreciating humour, something I don't see a lot of in Australia. If there is the implication that England could have played better then he's certainly right, they could have. Whether England could have won playing their best is another question.

Odie - The MBEs were awarded for what the Australian team described as a great performance by England in 2005. Ponting et al didn't seem to think their victory owed much to fortune and immediately set about making plans to recover the ashes, which to their great credit they did. England’s achievement of 2005 is not diminished by Australia’s achievement in 2006. If you wish to write to your sovereign that is your right, keep voting for her to!

Aussie Patriot – You say that England won through pure luck in 2005, and then you inform us that Aussies never whinge. Interesting suggestion about England erasing all it’s records and going into exile based on defeat in one test series, what moment of mature reflection brought you to this conclusion? I actually thought you were going to follow up your prediction of victory in 2009 and your assertion “We are smarter than you” with my “Dad’s bigger than your Dad”.

My suggested NY resolution for you three was simply to grow up, but I will ask you to try for something harder. Peter made the comment that the English get obsessed with winning and he’s right, they love to win (I’m not English) but they can laugh at defeat as well, as the Barmy army sung at the MCG, “4 nil down, we’re having a laugh”. For your NY resolution think of the words of another son of the Empire “If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposter just the same”

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim de Lisle
Tim de Lisle is a former editor of Wisden. He fell in love with newspapers at the age of seven and with cricket at the age of 10. He started in journalism at 16, reviewing records for the London Australian Magazine, before reading classics at Oxford and writing for Smash Hits, Harpers & Queen and the Observer. He has been a feature writer on the Daily Telegraph, arts editor of the Times and the Independent on Sunday, and editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly, where he won an Editor of the Year award. Since 1999, Tim has been the rock critic of the Mail on Sunday. He is deputy editor of Intelligent Life, the new general-interest magazine from the Economist. He writes for the Guardian and makes frequent appearances as a cricket pundit on the BBC and Sky News.

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