Reflection January 11, 2007

Raking over these Ashes

Tim de Lisle looks at the best and worst moments of the 2006-07 Ashes series
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BEST PLAYER Ricky Ponting. The world’s best batsman and a much improved captain.

BEST NON-PLAYER Troy Cooley. The only man to finish on the winning side in both the last two Ashes series. Australia's seamers did this time what England's did last time, working as a team and offering no respite, even with the old ball.

WORST BALL The first, bowled by Steve Harmison. It went straight to second slip – and into Ashes mythology.

BEST INNINGS Ponting’s 196 at Brisbane, which grabbed the series by the scruff of the neck.

BEST TEAM PLAYER Mike Hussey. Australia’s least spectacular batsman, but the one most likely to steer them out of trouble. He forged partnerships that shaped the business end of the series. He added 209 with Ponting at Brisbane, to snuff out England’s first hint of a decent bowling performance; he added 192, also with Ponting, at Adelaide, to see off the follow-on; and he made 74 not out to hold Australia together at Perth when England finally did bowl well. Also chased like a lunatic in the deep, caught Strauss brilliantly at Brisbane, and served his time at boot hill. Every team should have a Hussey. England’s best bet could be Owais Shah.

BEST MATCH The third Test at Perth. Brisbane was one-way traffic; Adelaide was a bore until the last day, when that savage twist arrived; Melbourne went flat after the excellent Hayden-Symonds partnership; Sydney promised much but petered out when England’s top order flopped. Perth became one-sided too, but only late on. The first day, when Harmison was himself and Monty made his entrance, was riveting. Then Australia fought back: after the bloated scores of the first two Tests, it was great to see the bowlers in charge. Then, out of nowhere, came hurricane Gilchrist. Finally England’s young players batted with just enough steel to salvage some honour.

BEST FIELDER Andrew Symonds, prowling the covers in the last three Tests. His strength, reach and pace put him in the select club of fielders who can turn a dot ball into an event.

BEST HITTER Adam Gilchrist. Had a bizarre time, making either 0, 1, 60 or Australia’s fastest-ever hundred, but to finish the series with a strike rate of more than a run a ball was staggering. Managed to make a difference and put his feet up at the same time: in the whole series, he faced only 225 balls.

BEST CATCHER Chris Read. With 11 catches and one stumping out of only 20 wickets to fall while he was out there, he was pure silk behind the stumps. Pure jelly in front of them, but then so was the man he replaced, Geraint Jones.

BEST SELECTION Stuart Clark, the quiet man who ended up not just as the most economical bowler on either side, but the most incisive (26 wickets at 17). When the series began, some good judges were advocating dropping him for Mitchell Johnson, and plenty of fans were clamouring for the raw pace of Shaun Tait. Either could have done well – but not, realistically, as well as Clark.

WORST SELECTION England at Brisbane, making three unforced changes (G Jones for Read, Giles for Panesar, Anderson for Mahmood) which all had to be rescinded later. None of the beneficiaries had significant form, and two of them were less than match-fit. All the selectors needed to do was bring in Flintoff for Mahmood, plus a battle-hardened top-order batsman for Trescothick. The extra changes smacked of panic.

WORST STRATEGY England’s insistence on playing five bowlers throughout, even when it had become clear that this left them with only five batsmen.

MOST UNLIKELY BLOCKER Kevin Pietersen. Bit by bit, Australia’s pinpoint accuracy reduced England’s buccaneer to a barnacle. In the first Test he faced 199 balls and made 108 runs; in the last, it was 199 balls again, but only 70 runs. He batted longer than anyone on either side in the series, yet didn’t score the most runs.

WORST CASE OF SHELLSHOCK Paul Collingwood. His double hundred at Adelaide was a career peak, but afterwards the only way was down, starting in the second innings, when he made 22, hopelessly slowly, as his team mates turned to lemmings at the other end. Didn’t pass 30 again.

BEST BOWLING The Australians bowled so well as a pack that they took 92 wickets with only two five-fors. Their best performance was probably Warne’s 4 for 49 in the second innings at Adelaide, a chilling piece of psychological cricket; he asphyxiated his opponents with a piece of cord woven from their own fears. Best by an Englishman: Hoggard’s 7 for 109 at Adelaide, a masterly display of patience, variation and sheer bloodymindedness.

WORST BOWLING Harmison at Brisbane (one for 177): not so much a spearhead, more a boomerang. Worst by a slow bowler: Warne in the first innings at Adelaide (one for 167), because he stopped being Shane Warne and turned into Ashey Giles on a bad day, aiming outside leg stump.

BEST COMMENTATOR Nasser Hussain. Thinks like a captain, talks like a journalist.

BEST OBSERVATION On the final day of the series, I bumped into Alastair McLellan, a business journalist who once edited an interesting book called Nothing Sacred: The New Cricket Culture. He pointed out that Peter English, Cricinfo’s Australian editor, had done a piece on the Adelaide debacle entitled “Insipid England ruin series”. Written in haste, proved right at leisure.

WORST SLEDGE Most ineffectual: Collingwood laying into Warne at Sydney and keeping him pumped after his standing ovation had faded. Most graceless: Warne to Collingwood at the same time. It’s your final appearance of a glittering career – why spend it descending to the level of a playground bully?

BEST RIPOSTE Ian Bell, when Warne labelled him the Shermanator. He said: “I’ve been called worse.” His bat did the rest of the talking: after floundering against Warne in 2005, he made 121 off him this time for only twice out, using his feet to come out of his shell.

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ENGLISHMAN Mark Ramprakash, scoring a perfect 40 with his salsa in the final of Strictly Come Dancing.

SILLIEST FOOL Me, for assuming Adelaide would be a draw when I went to bed that night. I forgot the lesson that is rammed home early on in The Silence of the Lambs, when Jodie Foster is doing her FBI training…

Scott Glenn: How do you spell assume? Foster: Er, A-S-S-U-M-E, why? Glenn: Because when you assume something, you make an ASS out of U and ME.

MOST ACCURATE PREDICTION Glenn sodding McGrath. He finally got one right.

BEST BLOG COMMENTER Kathy from New Zealand – thoughtful, soulful and able to rise above the sometimes toxic banter of more interested parties. Runner-up: the delightful gentleman who remembered seeing Len Hutton. Many thanks to everyone who contributed, and the silent majority who didn’t; to Sambit Bal for bringing the blog over from my site, and to everyone at Cricinfo for their help, especially Will Luke.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pete on January 19, 2007, 3:53 GMT

    There needs to be a number of changes to the England team in both forms of the game.

    Firstly in regards to keeping, Chris Read should be the one and only keeper. Sure take a back up on tours for the injury, but the best gloveman in the country should be the national keeper. Sure, Gilchrist is an exceptional batsman, but he sets the standard for wicketkeeping in Australia, thus he gets his place in the team. If Read gets a chance to be exposed to international attacks then he will improve his batting, and his glove work will always save runs because there will hardly be any byes conceeded and he will only drop the really really difficult catches. I really feel sorry for the guy, because he doesn't really know how he's meant to go about his cricket. He gets dropped when in form, recalled into a lost cause, then gets dropped again for a 36 year old which clearly isn't showing signs of looking to the future.

    Secondly, Monty never to be dropped from either team, until a spinner of better quality comes along. He'll get spanked for sure, but he'll always be trying to take wickets and his energy surely would be infectious if everyone in the team embraces it. Warne got hit around the park on occasions but, because he was the best spinner in the country, was kept and look at what he did. I'm not saying Monty will be as good as Warne, but he is England's best spinner so he must always be a part of the team.

    Third, they need to find some big hitters in county cricket. They have too many conventional players at the top of the innings. Strauss, Vaughan, Bell won't tear you apart, and put so much pressure on Pieterson and Flintoff to up the tempo and if they don't and get out cheaply then a slow, low total is on the cards. Also, it shows in the fact that Pieterson injured only leaves one hitter, who just happens to be some sort of captain and their strike bowler. Look at the Aussies, blasters at the top of the innings, middle order accumulators who hit sixes in Ponting, Clarke and Hussey, then huge hitters in Symonds and White, meaning they get big totals easily. That's what England need to find, one or two more big hitters who can help tear apart the attacks and have one of those come in the top 3.

    Fourth, they have to not be rigid in the 5 bowler policy. They need to be able to realise if their batting is not up to scratch and pick an extra batsman, which will also release a bit of pressure on Flintoff. The policy works if everyone is in form, but if not, well you will lose series 5-0.

    Next, don't give guys in their mid 30s debuts if you're apparantly building for the future and looking to the next Ashes and trying to win World Cups. It also gives mixed messages to the talented youngsters.

    No more Harmison, unless they're playing at home. Sure, everyone says he's a great bowler, which he shows at glimpses. But when your spearhead says that he doesn't like to tour overseas it doesn't put a lot of confidence in the team. He's a player who now has close to 50 tests, so he's experienced, and he now has to step up to the mark otherwise they should just get rid of him.

    There are probably so many more, but these are the ones that come to mind. And another point, I think it's fairly well known that Warnes sledge showed the views that pretty much every non-English person has around the cricketing worlds. Great words Warney.

  • Somu on January 17, 2007, 10:50 GMT

    Tim tht was a wonderful work by you throughout the ashes. Why not include Warne's comments on McGrath whn he told after tht SCG match tht "McGrath gets it right atleast once if he keeps on telling". Tht was a gud comment too.

  • swaugh on January 16, 2007, 23:45 GMT

    Chris makes a good point (Australia in fact had a tickertape parade after the 1989 series, and that was after losing just two Ashes series) - but surely awarding everyone MBEs was overdoing it (great sledge, Warney). In fact, I see England have finally won a game on tour - all things being relative, perhaps more gongs are now in order?

  • Pete on January 16, 2007, 20:25 GMT

    yeah, I agree with asuka, was just wondering what tim's thoughts would be.

    As an Aussie, I'd just like to point out that after 1989 we gave AB's side a street parade. so in answer to the question of how triumphant we'd have been... especially with the cricket tragic and popularist John Howard in power...

  • James W on January 16, 2007, 14:37 GMT

    It's pretty evident to most of us that Tim has a bais against Warne. He takes jibes at him even after he's retired. Very unprofessional coming from a form editor of Wisden.

  • Cameron flint on January 16, 2007, 11:52 GMT

    OK here we go....

    Firstly, suggestions that Steve Harmison is your best bowler are verging on the insane. Great sportsmen rise to the great occasions and what could be greater than touring Oz as the reigning Ashes holders? Sadly Harmy's contributions to the series amounted to very little. We Aussies know that he is better than that, but we also fear Matthew Hoggard more than any of your bowlers. He is sublime.

    Secondly, to suggest Shane Warne cheated his way through his career is positively offensive. He is a champion and mastered both the physical and psychological aspects of our great game. A master of the sledge too.

    Thirdly, retire in peace Messrs Warne, McGrath, Langer and Martyn. All superb and thank you for your services to our country. We over here hope the void created by your departures can be filled quickly!?! Not too likely

    Mike Hussey is a great great cricketer but Ricky Ponting deserved the Player of the Series award.

    Finally, in my line of work I had the opportunity to meet Messrs Hoggard, Strauss and Collingwood and I found them all to be true gentlemen and it was a real thrill.

    Long live The Ashes and see you in 2009!!!!!!!

  • skraz on January 16, 2007, 8:10 GMT

    Chris - We would enjoy it for sure, but would we be getting MBE's etc over it and carrying on as bad as all the english supporters including bloggers did?

    no

  • Odie on January 16, 2007, 3:19 GMT

    For Chris:

    Nice attempt at a role reversal, although less than convincing, considering it went a little further than just a few loud celebrations.

    I direct your attention to the MBEs, boasts (granted, mainly from the fans and English commentators) that England would now be a test force to be reckoned with and that Australia was "past it", and an inane autobiography (yes, I'm looking at KPs ugly mug on the front of this dog's breakfast right now) amongst the other equally dismal marketing initiatives designed to capitalise on short term euphoria.

    The point is that all of this spurred your opponents onto bigger and better things, and the resultant 5 nil drubbing and demonstrates just how annoyed we were at the antics of this bunch of upstarts.

    One thing that the ACB would have recognised (had the roles been reversed), and regardless of the celebrations, is that one series win in such circumstances does not deserve the accolades that were bestowed...hence Warne's comment to Collingwood.

    The ACB would have been looking at ways to try to cement such success into the future rather than just resting on its laurels as has happened with the ECB (need I remind you where Mr Cooley ended up?).

    Mr De Lisle used a word in an earlier ill fated article which probably sums up the whole situation, Chris. The word may also give you some insight as to why many in the Australian cricketing community found the goings on in 2005 rather excessive, to say the least.

    That word, Chris, is "hubris".

  • Chris on January 15, 2007, 14:06 GMT

    Here's a little experiment for the Aussie fans who are criticising England's 2005 celebrations. Just imagine (it's hard, I know) that Australia had lost every series against England for 16 years. Imagine there seemed to be no end in sight. Then imagine that Australia, straining every sinew, narrowly managed to beat a superior English side. Now place your hand on your heart and answer this question. Would you have celebrated with no more than a quiet beer? No, didn't think so.

  • Graham on January 15, 2007, 13:23 GMT

    For those wondering why Collingwood laid into Warne, I think he, like the rest of us in the ground when the replay was shown, was absolutely incensed that he didn't walk when he blatantly gloved his 5th or 6th ball from Monty through to Read. I think with the renowned walker Gilly at the other end, Colly decided he needed to say something. One of the all time greats though he is, Warne has got away with more cheating in his career in the form of incidents like this and his ridiculous posturing when appealing or having appeals turned down than any other player in history.

  • Pete on January 19, 2007, 3:53 GMT

    There needs to be a number of changes to the England team in both forms of the game.

    Firstly in regards to keeping, Chris Read should be the one and only keeper. Sure take a back up on tours for the injury, but the best gloveman in the country should be the national keeper. Sure, Gilchrist is an exceptional batsman, but he sets the standard for wicketkeeping in Australia, thus he gets his place in the team. If Read gets a chance to be exposed to international attacks then he will improve his batting, and his glove work will always save runs because there will hardly be any byes conceeded and he will only drop the really really difficult catches. I really feel sorry for the guy, because he doesn't really know how he's meant to go about his cricket. He gets dropped when in form, recalled into a lost cause, then gets dropped again for a 36 year old which clearly isn't showing signs of looking to the future.

    Secondly, Monty never to be dropped from either team, until a spinner of better quality comes along. He'll get spanked for sure, but he'll always be trying to take wickets and his energy surely would be infectious if everyone in the team embraces it. Warne got hit around the park on occasions but, because he was the best spinner in the country, was kept and look at what he did. I'm not saying Monty will be as good as Warne, but he is England's best spinner so he must always be a part of the team.

    Third, they need to find some big hitters in county cricket. They have too many conventional players at the top of the innings. Strauss, Vaughan, Bell won't tear you apart, and put so much pressure on Pieterson and Flintoff to up the tempo and if they don't and get out cheaply then a slow, low total is on the cards. Also, it shows in the fact that Pieterson injured only leaves one hitter, who just happens to be some sort of captain and their strike bowler. Look at the Aussies, blasters at the top of the innings, middle order accumulators who hit sixes in Ponting, Clarke and Hussey, then huge hitters in Symonds and White, meaning they get big totals easily. That's what England need to find, one or two more big hitters who can help tear apart the attacks and have one of those come in the top 3.

    Fourth, they have to not be rigid in the 5 bowler policy. They need to be able to realise if their batting is not up to scratch and pick an extra batsman, which will also release a bit of pressure on Flintoff. The policy works if everyone is in form, but if not, well you will lose series 5-0.

    Next, don't give guys in their mid 30s debuts if you're apparantly building for the future and looking to the next Ashes and trying to win World Cups. It also gives mixed messages to the talented youngsters.

    No more Harmison, unless they're playing at home. Sure, everyone says he's a great bowler, which he shows at glimpses. But when your spearhead says that he doesn't like to tour overseas it doesn't put a lot of confidence in the team. He's a player who now has close to 50 tests, so he's experienced, and he now has to step up to the mark otherwise they should just get rid of him.

    There are probably so many more, but these are the ones that come to mind. And another point, I think it's fairly well known that Warnes sledge showed the views that pretty much every non-English person has around the cricketing worlds. Great words Warney.

  • Somu on January 17, 2007, 10:50 GMT

    Tim tht was a wonderful work by you throughout the ashes. Why not include Warne's comments on McGrath whn he told after tht SCG match tht "McGrath gets it right atleast once if he keeps on telling". Tht was a gud comment too.

  • swaugh on January 16, 2007, 23:45 GMT

    Chris makes a good point (Australia in fact had a tickertape parade after the 1989 series, and that was after losing just two Ashes series) - but surely awarding everyone MBEs was overdoing it (great sledge, Warney). In fact, I see England have finally won a game on tour - all things being relative, perhaps more gongs are now in order?

  • Pete on January 16, 2007, 20:25 GMT

    yeah, I agree with asuka, was just wondering what tim's thoughts would be.

    As an Aussie, I'd just like to point out that after 1989 we gave AB's side a street parade. so in answer to the question of how triumphant we'd have been... especially with the cricket tragic and popularist John Howard in power...

  • James W on January 16, 2007, 14:37 GMT

    It's pretty evident to most of us that Tim has a bais against Warne. He takes jibes at him even after he's retired. Very unprofessional coming from a form editor of Wisden.

  • Cameron flint on January 16, 2007, 11:52 GMT

    OK here we go....

    Firstly, suggestions that Steve Harmison is your best bowler are verging on the insane. Great sportsmen rise to the great occasions and what could be greater than touring Oz as the reigning Ashes holders? Sadly Harmy's contributions to the series amounted to very little. We Aussies know that he is better than that, but we also fear Matthew Hoggard more than any of your bowlers. He is sublime.

    Secondly, to suggest Shane Warne cheated his way through his career is positively offensive. He is a champion and mastered both the physical and psychological aspects of our great game. A master of the sledge too.

    Thirdly, retire in peace Messrs Warne, McGrath, Langer and Martyn. All superb and thank you for your services to our country. We over here hope the void created by your departures can be filled quickly!?! Not too likely

    Mike Hussey is a great great cricketer but Ricky Ponting deserved the Player of the Series award.

    Finally, in my line of work I had the opportunity to meet Messrs Hoggard, Strauss and Collingwood and I found them all to be true gentlemen and it was a real thrill.

    Long live The Ashes and see you in 2009!!!!!!!

  • skraz on January 16, 2007, 8:10 GMT

    Chris - We would enjoy it for sure, but would we be getting MBE's etc over it and carrying on as bad as all the english supporters including bloggers did?

    no

  • Odie on January 16, 2007, 3:19 GMT

    For Chris:

    Nice attempt at a role reversal, although less than convincing, considering it went a little further than just a few loud celebrations.

    I direct your attention to the MBEs, boasts (granted, mainly from the fans and English commentators) that England would now be a test force to be reckoned with and that Australia was "past it", and an inane autobiography (yes, I'm looking at KPs ugly mug on the front of this dog's breakfast right now) amongst the other equally dismal marketing initiatives designed to capitalise on short term euphoria.

    The point is that all of this spurred your opponents onto bigger and better things, and the resultant 5 nil drubbing and demonstrates just how annoyed we were at the antics of this bunch of upstarts.

    One thing that the ACB would have recognised (had the roles been reversed), and regardless of the celebrations, is that one series win in such circumstances does not deserve the accolades that were bestowed...hence Warne's comment to Collingwood.

    The ACB would have been looking at ways to try to cement such success into the future rather than just resting on its laurels as has happened with the ECB (need I remind you where Mr Cooley ended up?).

    Mr De Lisle used a word in an earlier ill fated article which probably sums up the whole situation, Chris. The word may also give you some insight as to why many in the Australian cricketing community found the goings on in 2005 rather excessive, to say the least.

    That word, Chris, is "hubris".

  • Chris on January 15, 2007, 14:06 GMT

    Here's a little experiment for the Aussie fans who are criticising England's 2005 celebrations. Just imagine (it's hard, I know) that Australia had lost every series against England for 16 years. Imagine there seemed to be no end in sight. Then imagine that Australia, straining every sinew, narrowly managed to beat a superior English side. Now place your hand on your heart and answer this question. Would you have celebrated with no more than a quiet beer? No, didn't think so.

  • Graham on January 15, 2007, 13:23 GMT

    For those wondering why Collingwood laid into Warne, I think he, like the rest of us in the ground when the replay was shown, was absolutely incensed that he didn't walk when he blatantly gloved his 5th or 6th ball from Monty through to Read. I think with the renowned walker Gilly at the other end, Colly decided he needed to say something. One of the all time greats though he is, Warne has got away with more cheating in his career in the form of incidents like this and his ridiculous posturing when appealing or having appeals turned down than any other player in history.

  • Marty on January 15, 2007, 2:52 GMT

    A bit late but...

    Collingwood - should have refused the MBE, even if it would deny us the greatest sledge of the series.

    Harmison - why any Englishman is defending him is beyond me. From an Australian perspective he was not only lacking confidence in his ability, but carrying on like a coward, something which will not endear him to any crowd. I suppose not everyone can play the game with the spirit of Monty but he was a series highlight for me, I truly enjoyed watching him bowl (and take wickets!). The attitude that Harmison has been excellent in the past will only take England down the old road to countless Ashes losses. More Hoggards, less Harmisons.

  • Odie on January 15, 2007, 2:47 GMT

    Must disagree with you about Warne's MBE comment. This was a prime example of Warne's ability to seek out both the technical AND psychological weaknesses in his opponents. It was part of what made him such an effective bowler.

    ...And you can bet Warne had been saving it up for a while too, to be employed on the most English of the English players at just the right time. It was a particularly good jibe, to say the least, and quite appropriate following the disgraceful over-reactive drunken stumblings indulged in by the English team in 2005.

    Kudos to Collingwood for recognising the comment for what it was.

    Sour grapes to De Lisle for failing to realise that this is all part of the game when the big boys play.

  • Asuka on January 15, 2007, 1:50 GMT

    The composite team would be easy, Hussey opening, Pietersen in for Langer. Maybe Flintoff for Symonds.. but I'm not too sure about that especially if based purley on Ashes performance..

  • Cameron on January 14, 2007, 19:37 GMT

    This is the most i have watched any Ashes series and we lose 5-0!!!

  • marcus on January 14, 2007, 0:26 GMT

    I think the player of the series should definitely have been Hussey- it was a massive shock seeing him go out early in Melbourne, because it's just such a rare event. He was certainly the best bat. And Stephanie, maybe Collingwood didn't deserve the MBE, but I also remember that last time England toured he was the ONLY batsman to seriously resist us in the One-Dayers. Weak? Far from it, he's one of the grittiest batsmen in the English side.

    Oh, and remember this? "If Clark is selected England will breathe a sigh of relief." Maybe Clark should have been the Man of the Series as well.

  • oz fan on tour on January 13, 2007, 16:14 GMT

    Well its some what of a relief to find i was not the only person to notice Reads exceptional glove work when finally admitted to the team. Amazing the level of flack directed at a man who did his primary task without fault and was given only a few chances on tour to actually get out into the middle and bat, a completely different environment to net practice regardless what you hear from the english camp. And yes I agree his performances were below par for a batsman at this level but he wasn't exactly alone in that regard was he?

  • Jamie Dowling on January 13, 2007, 14:54 GMT

    A humourous view of a disastrous series for England. Love the best performance by an Englishman, but no mention of Duncan Fletcher, who masterminded this French-like capitulation? Normality has indeed been restored, with Aussies not walking unless they run out of petrol and winning almost everything in sight. MBEs have now lost their value thanks to Shane Warne. Anyone seen a video of Sir Geoffrey hanging his MBE on his cat?

  • Jackie Litherland on January 13, 2007, 12:59 GMT

    I support what you say about Read. His wicket keeping was superb. What a great support for the bowlers. The inanity of dropping him shows the selection process at its worst and just adds pressure and panic to a team already down. What was the thinking behind it? How about keep him in - he's the best wicket keeper around - and help him to impove his batting? There's too much indecision and lack of judgement at the heart of the selection process. Bell, for instance, was only in the team by way of injury at the beginning of the summer. But he's also one to back. He's a classy player who puts right his mistakes. All the foreign commentators, especially the Aussies, spotted this straight away. I don't believe we should take the Botham advice. Teach them all to whack the ball etc. Look at Hussey and Ponting. I think Nasser's right, the accumulators playing their natural game, can be the strength of the side, allowing the whackers to take risks. It's the balance between the two that's important. Our weak bowling at the moment is putting too much pressure on the batsmen to play outside their natural game. Vaughan, Stauss, Bell and Cook should be encouraged to be stylish and stroke to the boundary. Let the strong hitters like KP and Flintoff feel freer to take the risks. As for Harmison I couldn't disagree more with everyone, and less of the abuse, lads. He has been brilliant for England. If he is temperamental he should be nurtured. Talented fast bowlers often are like this. They can be highly strung. Caddick is a case in point and didn't he skittle out the Aussies to prevent a whitewash? Flintoff is a great player but like Botham before him a poor captain who couldn't motivate his team or his best friend either. Stop treating Harmison like a dogsbody. He's the best bowler we have by far and the only one everyone is frightened of. Many a bowler following him has got the wicket he's set up by working over the batsmen. There's too great a tendancy to rubbish players which is an unattractive media trait. Negativity seems to be very British. You never hear Aussie commentators pass over positive points to be made. Michael Holding once told Nasser he was glad he was born in the West Indies so that he didn't have to face the British media when he was playing. "I don't know how you stood it." he told him. No-one wants to coach the England football team because of the same thing. Let's hope it doesn't happen to our England cricket team.

  • Stephanie on January 13, 2007, 7:49 GMT

    Warne a bully - I should think it more like Collingwood the ignorant upstart. Why would you sledge an in-form Shane Warne? That's cricketing suicide (for an entire team) - as Warne has proven time and time again. More to the point, why do many English people seem almost incapable of handling a little friendly banter (as Collingwood himself called it)? Besides Tim, labelling Warne a 'bully' implies Paul Collingwood is weak - while this is true, it's not very flattering on your behalf ...

  • sridhar on January 13, 2007, 6:45 GMT

    Yes it was graceful of you to accept that you were dumb about Adelaide.I wish Mike Selvey would have the same grace to accept thatMcgrath was right about his predictions.How many of you will go with Glenn"s prediction that Australia will win all the preliminary matches , the first two finals of the Commonwealth Bank series, three matches of the Chappell-Hadlee series and all the matches of the world cup including the final?Now that is a very bold or a a very dumb predicition.I think Australia believe they can do it, though Ponting may be suirming just a bit at Glenn going over the top again!!!

  • ayesh on January 13, 2007, 6:35 GMT

    finally, the sports writers have realised England was wrong in playing 5 specialist bowlers all the time.It reduced their batting strength tremendously , and I think ashes was lost mainly die to this poor strategy.. One just need to look at the contribution by the tail, and bear in mind England's tail started from no 7 !! England tail contribute nothing at all throughout the series and I don't think you can win a test series with that kind of pathetic display..What amazes me is ,no one has ever made an issue out of this and though this was quite obvious for every fan who was watching the game.

  • Justin B on January 13, 2007, 6:27 GMT

    Thanks for the comments about Chris Read, Tim - someone needs to stand up for him given his keeping skills - and I'd still argue that his batting is yet to be proven to be that bad. As you say to single him out for only two games after his performances against Pakistan is very rough given the run Jones was awarded. I am at a loss to understand his treatment. What's more, he's generally seen as a useful one day batsman,which makes it even harder to comprehend. MAybe he's not one of the big personalities that dominate the England camp at the moment. Thank God MV's back at the helm.

    I'm not sure we could have expected Warne to go to any other way. He finsihed the game like he played it. Collingwood got the MBE due to them not wanting to leave him out...all very English and not his fault.

  • BXTN on January 13, 2007, 5:32 GMT

    I agree with everything you said except the silliest fool. Shouldn't Duncan Fletcher, Andrew Flintoff and the rest of the English team be the silliet fool? I think so!

  • rext on January 12, 2007, 21:44 GMT

    Thanks Tim, Strange choice for WORST BOWLING though!! I thought Warne in the first innings in Adelaide was the BEST BOWLING in the series, as he choked the flow on a belter and as Ricky Ponting said was "prepared to take the blow to his ego for the team". He bowled 57 overs on a batsman's dream pitch for just 157 robbing England of Test crickets most valuable commodity - time! I'm sure England were batting to a declaration timeframe not a runs target and had they got 50 more in the time they allowed themselves for their first innings, or got the runs they did an hour quicker Australia could not have won the match! That made Warne's second innings heroics possible and in my opinion effectively decided the series!!

  • Peter on January 12, 2007, 21:33 GMT

    Andrew, England lost by an innings and 99 runs in Melbourne, so how you think that Rudi cost them the match is beyond me. Cook benefitted from an identical non-decision from Rudi in the same match, but Australia was good enough to create another chance and take it not long after, unlike England, who couldn't get Hayden again until he was 150. Poor England bowling cost them matches, not isolated umpiring mistakes. And the worst one was Bowden's howler against Gilchrist in Sydney - when a known walker like Gilly stands his ground, it should put some doubt in the umpire's mind...

  • Laurence Sterne on January 12, 2007, 20:29 GMT

    Come on, Tim, tell the truth: did you _really_ think Warne's sledge was "graceless", or did it touch a raw nerve about the ridiculousness of the English reaction (dare I say it - your reaction?) to the 2005 series?

    More seriously, I find the English commentators' call for Chris Read's head utterly baffling. He is an exceptional keeper, and his batting will only get better with prolonged exposure to test attacks: look at Ian Healy. A class act behind the stumps is worth a lot more than the 10 or 15 runs per innings that a county hack like Jones, Nixon or Batty might make.

  • snoopthedoop on January 12, 2007, 16:04 GMT

    Best Blog yet Tim.

    But wait for it one complaint from Snoop. It is the "least spectacular" tag on Hussey. What did he average? 92 or 93 ahhh who cares.

    Your point about him was correct but I thought HE WAS SPECTACULAR. Just remember he is a better one day player (or so the selectors thought in 2005) so I hope he gets a chance over the next few months to be "unspectacular" at home and in the West Indies. Must say though with Englands attack (why no Hoggard - easily the best of the Poms) he might not get a bat (tongue in cheek there - or is it????)

    Anyway, love the blogs mate - may they continue.

    One quick question - WHY did Collingwood sledge Warne (or react to Warne who cares who started it). Four nil down (at the time) is not a position of strength...weird,strange and history...

  • Step Parikian on January 12, 2007, 15:32 GMT

    The MBE business is hilarious. Obviously Warne is miffed that he hasn't got one; I don't understand their system but my guess is he will get something higher and Glenda McGrath will get bottom rank. Damien Martyn probably won't. Does Richie "doyenne" Benaud have anything? If not, why not?

  • Ali Khan on January 12, 2007, 14:48 GMT

    The only Englishman with the heart of an Aussie: Kavin Pietersen.

  • Andrew on January 12, 2007, 13:48 GMT

    I'd have to agree with all the disagreers over the Warne sledge. I thought it was classic and summed up what every Aussie thinks of the complete over-reaction of the English to the Ashes winning series. Well done Warney, your personality as much as your cricket will be missed!

  • jack on January 12, 2007, 13:03 GMT

    that was an awesome sledge from warne. marvellous assement of the series that. Good work all series tim. with Pietersen out england look like they got a massive hole cause that leaves them with just 1 big hitting player in Fred, and does any1 who no's anything about cricket and is english actually think we can win the world cup???????

  • Stephen on January 12, 2007, 12:15 GMT

    Most graceless sledge? I thought it was one of the best. Please tell me why a player gets an MBE for scoring 17 runs in a winning Ashes series? Imagine how many the Australian MBEs would have been handed out since 1989 then.

  • You know who on January 12, 2007, 11:24 GMT

    Is this the only time Mcgrath's 5-0 prediction actually come true?

  • Richard Woolley on January 12, 2007, 11:17 GMT

    Warne graceless when he was sledging Collingwood, Tim? I thought it was hilarious saying 'You got an MBE for scoring 7 runs at The Oval? That's embarassing. Are you going to give it back?" Hardly the words of a playground bully! Maybe Colly should give his MBE to Geoff Boycott so he can tie it round his cat's neck.

  • Andrew Campbell on January 12, 2007, 9:43 GMT

    WORST UMPIRING DECISION: Rudi Keortzen for not giving Matthew Hayden out TWICE against Matthew Hoggard in the 1st innings at Melbourne.This decision ultimately cost England 140 runs and hence the match.

  • Gavin on January 12, 2007, 7:41 GMT

    A strange calm comes over me as i realise that world order has been resored. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, birds fly south for the winter and Australia crushed England 5-0.

  • Takkun on January 12, 2007, 2:24 GMT

    I think this is your best blog of the series Tim. On the money, whereas the others have generally got on my pecs. Though I do think Warne's "MBE: Must Be Embarrassing" quip was pretty good.

  • James W on January 12, 2007, 0:23 GMT

    Are you kidding? That Warne sledge to Collingwood was one of the highlights of the Ashes. He just said what everyone else was thinking, it was a great call and Paul Collingwood MBE is never going to hear the end of it. Kudos to Warney.

  • Robert on January 12, 2007, 0:13 GMT

    Thanks for giving Chris Read some recognition. Watching him keep wicket was one of the few pleasures of the series from an English point of view. Ian Healey called him the best English keeper for 20 years, yet now it seems they can't ditch him quick enough - in favour of a 36-year-old. Baffling.

  • Andrew Deacon on January 11, 2007, 22:27 GMT

    Well done Tim. Terrible series, but a good blog throughout.

  • Pete on January 11, 2007, 21:50 GMT

    Ah, what happened to composite team at the end of the Ashes? Was interested as to who you drop for Pietersen. and if you pick Hoggy. just a thought for debate. Have a good one Tim, didn't like a lot of what you said, but enjoyed thinking about it.

  • Corcricket on January 11, 2007, 21:28 GMT

    Great assessment - couldn't have summed it up better myself. I especially like your praise of Read - glad someone can see the good in him. Let's hope they give him a chance in the ODI - I can still remember his match winning innings in the WI!!

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  • Corcricket on January 11, 2007, 21:28 GMT

    Great assessment - couldn't have summed it up better myself. I especially like your praise of Read - glad someone can see the good in him. Let's hope they give him a chance in the ODI - I can still remember his match winning innings in the WI!!

  • Pete on January 11, 2007, 21:50 GMT

    Ah, what happened to composite team at the end of the Ashes? Was interested as to who you drop for Pietersen. and if you pick Hoggy. just a thought for debate. Have a good one Tim, didn't like a lot of what you said, but enjoyed thinking about it.

  • Andrew Deacon on January 11, 2007, 22:27 GMT

    Well done Tim. Terrible series, but a good blog throughout.

  • Robert on January 12, 2007, 0:13 GMT

    Thanks for giving Chris Read some recognition. Watching him keep wicket was one of the few pleasures of the series from an English point of view. Ian Healey called him the best English keeper for 20 years, yet now it seems they can't ditch him quick enough - in favour of a 36-year-old. Baffling.

  • James W on January 12, 2007, 0:23 GMT

    Are you kidding? That Warne sledge to Collingwood was one of the highlights of the Ashes. He just said what everyone else was thinking, it was a great call and Paul Collingwood MBE is never going to hear the end of it. Kudos to Warney.

  • Takkun on January 12, 2007, 2:24 GMT

    I think this is your best blog of the series Tim. On the money, whereas the others have generally got on my pecs. Though I do think Warne's "MBE: Must Be Embarrassing" quip was pretty good.

  • Gavin on January 12, 2007, 7:41 GMT

    A strange calm comes over me as i realise that world order has been resored. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, birds fly south for the winter and Australia crushed England 5-0.

  • Andrew Campbell on January 12, 2007, 9:43 GMT

    WORST UMPIRING DECISION: Rudi Keortzen for not giving Matthew Hayden out TWICE against Matthew Hoggard in the 1st innings at Melbourne.This decision ultimately cost England 140 runs and hence the match.

  • Richard Woolley on January 12, 2007, 11:17 GMT

    Warne graceless when he was sledging Collingwood, Tim? I thought it was hilarious saying 'You got an MBE for scoring 7 runs at The Oval? That's embarassing. Are you going to give it back?" Hardly the words of a playground bully! Maybe Colly should give his MBE to Geoff Boycott so he can tie it round his cat's neck.

  • You know who on January 12, 2007, 11:24 GMT

    Is this the only time Mcgrath's 5-0 prediction actually come true?