March 17, 2008

English cricket

Hats off to the selectors

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
James Anderson is mobbed after bowling Mathew Bell, New Zealand v England, 2nd Test, Wellington, March 14, 2008
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It's not often that the selectors get it right, but in ruthlessly dropping Harmison and Hoggard, they played a masterstroke, writes Vic Marks in the Guardian.

After the Hamilton debacle it was generally agreed that someone would have to go - and that someone would be Steve Harmison. But the simultaneous dropping of Matthew Hoggard took most by surprise.

A great deal will depend on the result in Napier as to how England's winter will be perceived, writes Simon Wilde in the Times:

It is the men with the new faces, untainted by the catastrophe in Australia last winter, who have enhanced their reputations ... Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad and Tim Ambrose to name but three. Of the famed Ashes winners of 2005, life has been less rich.

There has been little joy for Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss, Matthew Hoggard or Steve Harmison. Hoggard and Harmison are ending the winter outside the XI and have just watched James Anderson and Broad bowl England to victory with control and skill. Hoggy and Harmy may be back, but they may not. Napier may tell us that.

Having spent some time at the Basin Reserve over the weekend I’d have to say many of the memories indelibly etched in my memory come back to one group of people: the English (and occasionally Welsh) fans, writes Paul Holden in his blog on the Stuff website.

The English fans know how to support - their backing of their team is undiminished no matter how hopeless the state of play appears, or how many runs Monty Panesar leaks whilst trying to be hidden at mid-on. Their pain threshold knows levels much higher than any this NZ side can possibly inflict in a three-Test series.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is a former assistant editor at Cricinfo

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