England in West Indies, 2008-09 March 19, 2009

Time for England to employ an appealing coach

The official Confectionery Stall review of the West Indies v England series
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The official Confectionery Stall review of the West Indies v England series. Accept no substitute. This is the real thing.

More than a week has passed since the West Indies series ended in an ill-befitting flurry of excitement, like a retired accountant suddenly regretting the drab conformity of his working life and deciding to jump his mobility scooter over the Grand Canyon whilst dressed in a leopard-print leotard and wielding a tomahawk. Already, aside from Taylor’s flambéing of the England top order in Jamaica, the abiding memory of the series is of Collingwood dabbing Hinds to deep square leg for a comfortable single.

The final day frenzy was somewhat out of keeping with the majority of a series that was, for the most part, rubbish, punctuated only rarely by brief outbreaks of real cricket. In the end, Strauss took a bit of a gamble on the final day, but not enough of one, and England came to regret their first-innings fielding errors (and wasted referrals) in Trinidad, and their needless, thoughtless caution in Antigua. If the captain had taken as many risks as he routinely takes ‘positives’ in his post-match interviews, England would probably not have lost.

West Indies deserved their series win, for producing the one decisive passage of play in the four matches, and for having the requisite doggedness (and a sufficiently high boredom threshold) to play for a draw for 15 consecutive days. Not long ago, holding on for 15 overs would have been considered something of a triumph. Time will tell whether this victory constitutes the waters breaking in the long-awaited rebirth of West Indian cricket, or just a minor early contraction, or even merely an incidental bout of stomach cramp brought about by excessive consumption of gherkin-flavoured ice cream. At least there are strong signs that the decade-long gestation may soon be over, and the cricket world will hopefully soon be able to celebrate the arrival of a beautiful, bouncing new-reborn West Indian cricket.

England deserved their series loss, for producing the one truly dire passage of play in the series, and for failing to take major opportunities twice – their flawed decision-making, crucial dropped catches and damaging caution combined to help them avoid what could have been two excellent wins in unfavourable conditions.

I cannot remember a series in which there has been so much dull and pointless cricket. In the last three Tests, England faced 246 overs from part-time bowlers – that amounts to almost three full days of spine-chillingly vapid cricket, from which England collated 880 runs for 11 wickets at 3.6 per over. Cricket is not supposed to be an endurance sport. Nor is cricket-watching. Both came close in this series.

It says much about Test cricket that, even so, three of the four games had spectacular climaxes. However, if pitches like this are allowed to proliferate, Test cricket will die a slow, painful and deserved death. A few die-hard fans will remain gathered sadly round its bedside urging each other to remember it how it had been in its heyday, and not in its final decline into oblivion when it was but a hollow, spluttering shell of the great game it had once been. Meanwhile, administrators will bicker over who should take custody of its less magnificent but more commercially-minded children, 20-over and 50-over cricket, and who should hold the pillow over Test cricket’s face until the twitching stops.

Nevertheless, looking ahead to the Ashes, England are not, I think, in as bad a state as a series loss to one of world cricket’s weaker teams would suggest. The batsmen, having been in something of a collective slump for a couple of years, have mostly buffed their averages and confidence.

Of the bowlers, Swann was excellent throughout, taking more wickets in three matches than Warne took in the Caribbean in his entire career. (Swann took 19 scalps in 3 matches compared to the great Australian’s 17 in 7 – that is 2.6 times as many wickets per match. If Swann can repeat his wickets-per-match superiority over Warne during the Ashes this summer, he will take 76 wickets in the five tests. That is a stone-cold fact.)

Broad and Anderson emerged with creditable returns, and must be ticking off the days until they are released to bowl on a fair surface. If England can find a new fast bowler and a new number 3 batsman, or at least overhaul, respray and relaunch old ones, and a pair of magic wicket-keeping gloves, they should be competitive. It would help if Australia do the decent, gentlemanly thing, and sustain two or three key niggling injuries before the series. And don’t discover a spinner.

England will have a greater chance of success if they fill the glaring vacancy in their multitudinous non-playing workforce. The team’s support staff has for some time been one of the British government’s principal strategies for keeping unemployment levels in check, and current figures suggest it is the only one still working. However, one crucially important position remains unfilled, arguably the key role in preparing the players and enabling them to extract the maximum benefit from their performances − an appealing coach.

Appealing is one of the most important facets of the modern game, and England are hopeless at it. Panesar, of course, is the worst. Technically, his appealing arguably has more flaws than his batting and fielding combined. Everything is wrong about it – the vocal tone (too much of a caterwaul), the facial expression (too imploring), the desperate hand-clapping (too much like an out-of-his-depth primary school teacher trying to control a classroom full of naughty children), the backwards hopping (it seldom pays to look like you have just trodden on a snake unless you have actually just trodden on a snake).

England must invest some of the ECB’s billions teaching their bowlers how to convince an umpire – personally, I think the two-fingered point from the crouched position is usually effective, possibly accompanied by a gradual arching of the back; and it might be worth trying an old-fashioned barked ‘howzat’ rather than the modern extended eleven-man yowl.

And now for the one-day series. I admit that I struggle motivating myself to watch 50-over cricket, and England continue to look as well-equipped for the purpose as they do for a polar expedition, but it would be nice to see England finish at least one match this winter with a smile on their faces.

Next time: Part 1 of the World Unpredictable XI.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on March 26, 2009, 19:47 GMT

    ur post r few n far between..u have to write more often..

  • petersuch4england on March 26, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Let's be clear - this was a monumentally dull series. I think Chris & others who associate complaints with an impatience born of raised expectations in recent years are slightly missing the point. Its not about the speed the runs are scored at, but how difficult it is. Boycott & Gooch may not have been exciting, but they could provide gripping periods by hanging in where others couldn't. The issue here, and it is a serious one, is that flat pitches take all the tension out of the game, and allow mediocre batsmen (viz England) to masquerade as quality. Incidentally, I would not blame the WI team - they held on for a landmark series win and fair play to them. The issue over flat pitches is global (Lords is an obvious example) and threeatens to reduce the quality of the cricket we love.

  • dan on March 25, 2009, 13:26 GMT

    Another hilarious post Andy. Only one complaint... I just wish you would post more often! I've a suggestion for the most unpredictable XI: Sachin Tendulkar... for his bowling.

  • keyur on March 22, 2009, 17:35 GMT

    my suggestion for the unpredictable player from australia is to pick the spinner. The spinner will keep changing every match(beau caisson,bryce mcgain,cameron white,jason krejza,nathan hauritz) and hence will be unpredictable!!!

  • bruce g charlton on March 22, 2009, 10:06 GMT

    There are two basic ways of appealing effectively - both based on alpha male intimidation.

    The first was perfected by Alan Donald.

    The bowler spins round and points his index finger directly at the umpires head like a pretend gun; and crouches, staring with narrowed eyes and directing the gun - I mean finger - right between the umpires eyes until he gives a positive decision.

    But Donald was so great a bowler it is hard to know whether appealing really made any difference.

    The premier bowler who elevated moderate talent to a level of solid international performance by appealing was Dominic Cork.

    Cork's method was to thrust his groin at the unpire while arching his back. In effect Cork pointed his (thankfully invisible) penis right between the umpires eyes, until he got a positive decision.

    Clearly, having an invisible but real penis pointed between your eyes is more intimidating than an imaginary gun - so Cork should be appointed England's appealing-coach.

  • mombasa on March 21, 2009, 17:35 GMT

    about the dull XI, people seem to have forgotten ricardo powell.

  • Chris on March 21, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    It's cute how many people have such a rose-tinted view of test history. Imagine the England-West Indies series with better fast bowlers, but turn it into an entire decade, and you have the '80s. For decades, test cricket was about sustained periods of not much happening, followed by the occasional moment of game-changing activity, followed by more accumulation - this changed in the '90s, but that's just because of how awesome Australia were. We've gotten so used to it, however, that as test cricket reverts back to what it was for decades, we get bored.

    Not to mention the fact that much of the criticism comes from England, who had players like Gooch and Boycott making a career out of being boring while not getting out.

    Finally, it should also be pointed out that you couldn't expect the West Indies to do anything but play for a draw when they're conceding 500+ in the first innings. What should they have done? Declared while they were 200 behind?

  • Roger@1stSlip on March 21, 2009, 2:36 GMT

    The 'coaching' position, I agree is fundamental. England cricket's underlying problem is it's poor administration and management. The governing body seems incapable of leading to ensure that the England team have a) a world-class coach and b) a strong captain. Much of England' confidence & success in the 2005 Ashes was correctly attributed to firstly great 'coaching' thanks to eg the Australian Troy Cooley who showed the Quicks how to reverse swing and get Australians out and secondly Vaughan's inspiring and confident captaincy. How can the England team be expected to perform confidently in the coming 2009 Ashes without a top coach and with a captain who is really just a stand-in/2nd choice for/to Pietersen. To stand any chance in the 2009 Ashes, the ECB must get on and rapidly make a strong, progressive appointment of a worldclass coach and secondly they must swallow pride and return Pietersen to be captain because he is the only one who can psychologically intimidate the Australians.

  • Liaquat on March 20, 2009, 21:38 GMT

    Brilliant - Keep up the good work! You would think that all this pressure on test cricket to compete with the new the kid on the block; the administrators would at least make an effort to make it more attractive. Fat chance!

  • TrueBlue on March 20, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    Risk taking has never been a strong point in English cricket and as long as you allow the Yorkshire pudding called Boring Boycott media space, you'll get confused English pudding. KP is the only cricketer who plays to win simply because he played under Warne who instills a winning culture. Three one loss for the Ashes if England is lucky. Can you pommies cope with blunt Aussie coaches. West Indians won the series by getting a task master coach who knew trench warfare. You could probably win if you paid Warney enough but then you'd hate his lip and Collingwood would be very unhappy LOL. Stuey Clark will destroy England after the quicks are done.

  • Chris on March 26, 2009, 19:47 GMT

    ur post r few n far between..u have to write more often..

  • petersuch4england on March 26, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Let's be clear - this was a monumentally dull series. I think Chris & others who associate complaints with an impatience born of raised expectations in recent years are slightly missing the point. Its not about the speed the runs are scored at, but how difficult it is. Boycott & Gooch may not have been exciting, but they could provide gripping periods by hanging in where others couldn't. The issue here, and it is a serious one, is that flat pitches take all the tension out of the game, and allow mediocre batsmen (viz England) to masquerade as quality. Incidentally, I would not blame the WI team - they held on for a landmark series win and fair play to them. The issue over flat pitches is global (Lords is an obvious example) and threeatens to reduce the quality of the cricket we love.

  • dan on March 25, 2009, 13:26 GMT

    Another hilarious post Andy. Only one complaint... I just wish you would post more often! I've a suggestion for the most unpredictable XI: Sachin Tendulkar... for his bowling.

  • keyur on March 22, 2009, 17:35 GMT

    my suggestion for the unpredictable player from australia is to pick the spinner. The spinner will keep changing every match(beau caisson,bryce mcgain,cameron white,jason krejza,nathan hauritz) and hence will be unpredictable!!!

  • bruce g charlton on March 22, 2009, 10:06 GMT

    There are two basic ways of appealing effectively - both based on alpha male intimidation.

    The first was perfected by Alan Donald.

    The bowler spins round and points his index finger directly at the umpires head like a pretend gun; and crouches, staring with narrowed eyes and directing the gun - I mean finger - right between the umpires eyes until he gives a positive decision.

    But Donald was so great a bowler it is hard to know whether appealing really made any difference.

    The premier bowler who elevated moderate talent to a level of solid international performance by appealing was Dominic Cork.

    Cork's method was to thrust his groin at the unpire while arching his back. In effect Cork pointed his (thankfully invisible) penis right between the umpires eyes, until he got a positive decision.

    Clearly, having an invisible but real penis pointed between your eyes is more intimidating than an imaginary gun - so Cork should be appointed England's appealing-coach.

  • mombasa on March 21, 2009, 17:35 GMT

    about the dull XI, people seem to have forgotten ricardo powell.

  • Chris on March 21, 2009, 6:37 GMT

    It's cute how many people have such a rose-tinted view of test history. Imagine the England-West Indies series with better fast bowlers, but turn it into an entire decade, and you have the '80s. For decades, test cricket was about sustained periods of not much happening, followed by the occasional moment of game-changing activity, followed by more accumulation - this changed in the '90s, but that's just because of how awesome Australia were. We've gotten so used to it, however, that as test cricket reverts back to what it was for decades, we get bored.

    Not to mention the fact that much of the criticism comes from England, who had players like Gooch and Boycott making a career out of being boring while not getting out.

    Finally, it should also be pointed out that you couldn't expect the West Indies to do anything but play for a draw when they're conceding 500+ in the first innings. What should they have done? Declared while they were 200 behind?

  • Roger@1stSlip on March 21, 2009, 2:36 GMT

    The 'coaching' position, I agree is fundamental. England cricket's underlying problem is it's poor administration and management. The governing body seems incapable of leading to ensure that the England team have a) a world-class coach and b) a strong captain. Much of England' confidence & success in the 2005 Ashes was correctly attributed to firstly great 'coaching' thanks to eg the Australian Troy Cooley who showed the Quicks how to reverse swing and get Australians out and secondly Vaughan's inspiring and confident captaincy. How can the England team be expected to perform confidently in the coming 2009 Ashes without a top coach and with a captain who is really just a stand-in/2nd choice for/to Pietersen. To stand any chance in the 2009 Ashes, the ECB must get on and rapidly make a strong, progressive appointment of a worldclass coach and secondly they must swallow pride and return Pietersen to be captain because he is the only one who can psychologically intimidate the Australians.

  • Liaquat on March 20, 2009, 21:38 GMT

    Brilliant - Keep up the good work! You would think that all this pressure on test cricket to compete with the new the kid on the block; the administrators would at least make an effort to make it more attractive. Fat chance!

  • TrueBlue on March 20, 2009, 13:58 GMT

    Risk taking has never been a strong point in English cricket and as long as you allow the Yorkshire pudding called Boring Boycott media space, you'll get confused English pudding. KP is the only cricketer who plays to win simply because he played under Warne who instills a winning culture. Three one loss for the Ashes if England is lucky. Can you pommies cope with blunt Aussie coaches. West Indians won the series by getting a task master coach who knew trench warfare. You could probably win if you paid Warney enough but then you'd hate his lip and Collingwood would be very unhappy LOL. Stuey Clark will destroy England after the quicks are done.

  • Fan on March 20, 2009, 11:29 GMT

    I accuse Andy Zaltzman of being lazy. He should start writing 2 or more blogs a day...

  • ndigits on March 20, 2009, 7:14 GMT

    Monty certainly needs to refer to cricket manual in particular, the LBW rule. I remember him appealing for LBW to Sehwag during England's last tour to India while the ball pitched around 2 feet out side the leg stump. There were laughs all around.

  • Vijay on March 20, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    This was one of the dullest Test series ever played and it was a pain watching even one full session. I think this England cricket team lacks the drive to push for victory and this had been their pattern over the last few years that I can think of. I think ditching KP as captain was one of the big mistakes they made in recent years because I thought he could change the face of this English team. The Australians are again on the rampage and I predict a 5-0 victory in their favor in this year's Ashes.

  • Hariharan on March 20, 2009, 5:53 GMT

    Andy , the brandy man. If anyone tells me you are sane when you come with the stuff you do, I am ready to fly all the way to your house in the UK, have a meal with your family and jump off the terrace(Sponsored wholly by you of course.)

    Absolutely hilarious! Quite the best from your stable so far.

    Keep the good work going.

  • bala on March 20, 2009, 3:08 GMT

    Yeah Dim Rat, Haddin was a harsh decision,just couldn't think of an unpredictable Aussie to have played in the recent times.They better be consistent lest they are shown the door ,those poor fellas. Craig McMillan of NZ was the original choice keeping in mind Little Kalu was already there as a keeper.

  • prafs on March 19, 2009, 19:36 GMT

    maybe its time england stop replacing one useless cricketer with another. u know... it's like: hey ian bell isn't the one, may be owais shah will do better.... no wait... may be bell WAS better... now who else have we got...key..nope,....has vaughan recovered yet.... well , then bell it is .. that's settled then..... and awwwww there's harmy's making that cute puppydog face again...... ok ok.. u play harmy.... but just one test..... ok.... and last but not the least.... the 'keeper.... ok...we'll just give prior some super sticky spiderman gloves..... cant get worse than 50 byes can itfrom him(well may be he'll score 51 and we'll be even)........ alright then gentlemen, we have a team

  • Dim Rat on March 19, 2009, 17:26 GMT

    very droll andy. if your unpredictable XI is anything like your titans of tedium, am sure your fanbase will grow further. I agree with most of Bala's choices, except perhaps Haddin, which i think is a bit harsh given he's barely started. Dilhara should definitely be in though. All hail the No Ball king!

  • Simon Smith on March 19, 2009, 17:08 GMT

    Dull was certainly the word. The pitches were terrible, and this isn't an Englishman moaning as some WI's have said. I'd have loved to see more of Edwards trying to kill KP, I'd have loved to see that giant Benn extract more turn so he'd have had more to talk about to anyone who'd listen and I'd have loved to see Broad and Anderson get some reward for their efforts. Then there was the refferal system, but we've talked about that. This was the series that almost made me give up on cricket completely and I fear for my favourite game. I find myself caring less and less whenever England tour because I know what the result will be.

    As for Monty he doesn't need a referal coach he needs someone to tell him the rules because he clearly doesn't understand the LBW rule. Having said all that well done to the West Indies I am so pleased for them and in the spirit of a love of competition I can't wait for them to come here and for them to see what swing and seam are.

  • BALA on March 19, 2009, 15:48 GMT

    Interesting idea ,your unpredictable XI

    I will throw in eleven ODI players of my generation whom I have seen in action.See if you could use some of them.

    CRITERIA: -all countries should get representatives. -must have had long careers inspite of their unpredictability. -must be players who would not put you to sleep.

    1.Lou Vincent 2.Romesh Kaluwitharana 3.Hershelle Gibbs(most talented under performer) 4.Mohammed Ashraful 5.Dwayne Smith 6.Shahid Afridi (nowadays has become a bit predictable ie, hits the second ball up in the sky but still must to be picked for his previous "performances") 7.Brad Haddin 8.Ajit Agarkar(can score a 23 ball fifty and still manage 8 ducks in a row) 9.Dilhara Fernando (only predictable thing is that he will bowl 3 no balls/wides at the least) 10.Steve Harmison 11.Henry Olonga(gets his place due to country quota)

    PS: Sehwag or Yuvraj Singh could have made into the team 3 years ago.

  • Dave on March 19, 2009, 14:40 GMT

    Touch unfair this, Andy - some people might not find Andy Flower so unappealing.

    Oh, hang on...

  • AB on March 19, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    Having read and reread yr "Titan's of Tedium" - I can't wait for the World Unpredictable XI. Each of your articles have been hilarious!

    To drum up a line like, "infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters attempting to write a three-volume anthology of poems about David Boon" - needs a very active imagination. Great stuff.. and look forward to more of the same.

  • Delight on March 19, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    Monty's appealing was comical. I am certain he missed Nash's wicket for being a prat in the earlier overs. He is now up there with some of footballs greatest divers.

    PS - off to the Cape today to watch the Aussies do a hat-trick (ok perhaps not) on SA so if the baby is a few weeks early, my wife may just be calling on your delivery skills!

  • saatwik on March 19, 2009, 12:59 GMT

    i dont subscribe to referrals being called "wasted", looking at the third umpires' decision making of late, the referring team will stand to gain nothing and will lose morale over a lost referral and (most probably) a wrong decision even by the third kid whose watching tv.

  • Nick on March 19, 2009, 12:37 GMT

    Forgot to mention, I am looking forward to the World Unpredictable XI ;-)) Your previous world dullestXI was amazing .

  • Nick on March 19, 2009, 12:32 GMT

    Great article Andy. This test series was one of the most boring ones I have ever watched. In fact,there is a very disturbing trend which is being seen in the way the English play their cricket in all forms of the game. Bottom line , they lack aggression,confidence and the willingness to make things happen. In test cricket, they manage to draw games but in one day cricket their inadequacy's and meekness can be seen quite clearly.No English player in the top 25 highest career batting averages in one day cricket.No English player in the top 20 highest career strike rate. Only one English player in the top 30 most career hundreds list. They can learn a lot from top teams like Australia and India to see how the game has evolved. At the moment English cricket is lost in time and the only way they can come out of it is if they have a Captain with courage,confidence aggression,leads from the front and who has the willingness to make things happen than to watch things happen.

  • Venkat on March 19, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    First things first Andy - You rock!!!

    However I still defer from your view that this Series had been a dull affair played on dead-as-a-dodo surfaces. Except for the Antigua pitch which would be made Sir Viv jump off the nearest balcony or highway or the Pacific (whichever comes first), we still had 3 tests which came pretty close to a result. But for bloody-minded grit(a rarity in present WI teams) and some hare-brained tactics from the England team (with fielding on par with amateur club cricketers), the scoreline should have been 2-1 in Englands favor. If that had happened this series would have been one the most competitive series in the carribean and the pitches(sorry Viv you still have to jump) would have been the toast of all and sundry.

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  • Venkat on March 19, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    First things first Andy - You rock!!!

    However I still defer from your view that this Series had been a dull affair played on dead-as-a-dodo surfaces. Except for the Antigua pitch which would be made Sir Viv jump off the nearest balcony or highway or the Pacific (whichever comes first), we still had 3 tests which came pretty close to a result. But for bloody-minded grit(a rarity in present WI teams) and some hare-brained tactics from the England team (with fielding on par with amateur club cricketers), the scoreline should have been 2-1 in Englands favor. If that had happened this series would have been one the most competitive series in the carribean and the pitches(sorry Viv you still have to jump) would have been the toast of all and sundry.

  • Nick on March 19, 2009, 12:32 GMT

    Great article Andy. This test series was one of the most boring ones I have ever watched. In fact,there is a very disturbing trend which is being seen in the way the English play their cricket in all forms of the game. Bottom line , they lack aggression,confidence and the willingness to make things happen. In test cricket, they manage to draw games but in one day cricket their inadequacy's and meekness can be seen quite clearly.No English player in the top 25 highest career batting averages in one day cricket.No English player in the top 20 highest career strike rate. Only one English player in the top 30 most career hundreds list. They can learn a lot from top teams like Australia and India to see how the game has evolved. At the moment English cricket is lost in time and the only way they can come out of it is if they have a Captain with courage,confidence aggression,leads from the front and who has the willingness to make things happen than to watch things happen.

  • Nick on March 19, 2009, 12:37 GMT

    Forgot to mention, I am looking forward to the World Unpredictable XI ;-)) Your previous world dullestXI was amazing .

  • saatwik on March 19, 2009, 12:59 GMT

    i dont subscribe to referrals being called "wasted", looking at the third umpires' decision making of late, the referring team will stand to gain nothing and will lose morale over a lost referral and (most probably) a wrong decision even by the third kid whose watching tv.

  • Delight on March 19, 2009, 13:24 GMT

    Monty's appealing was comical. I am certain he missed Nash's wicket for being a prat in the earlier overs. He is now up there with some of footballs greatest divers.

    PS - off to the Cape today to watch the Aussies do a hat-trick (ok perhaps not) on SA so if the baby is a few weeks early, my wife may just be calling on your delivery skills!

  • AB on March 19, 2009, 14:22 GMT

    Having read and reread yr "Titan's of Tedium" - I can't wait for the World Unpredictable XI. Each of your articles have been hilarious!

    To drum up a line like, "infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters attempting to write a three-volume anthology of poems about David Boon" - needs a very active imagination. Great stuff.. and look forward to more of the same.

  • Dave on March 19, 2009, 14:40 GMT

    Touch unfair this, Andy - some people might not find Andy Flower so unappealing.

    Oh, hang on...

  • BALA on March 19, 2009, 15:48 GMT

    Interesting idea ,your unpredictable XI

    I will throw in eleven ODI players of my generation whom I have seen in action.See if you could use some of them.

    CRITERIA: -all countries should get representatives. -must have had long careers inspite of their unpredictability. -must be players who would not put you to sleep.

    1.Lou Vincent 2.Romesh Kaluwitharana 3.Hershelle Gibbs(most talented under performer) 4.Mohammed Ashraful 5.Dwayne Smith 6.Shahid Afridi (nowadays has become a bit predictable ie, hits the second ball up in the sky but still must to be picked for his previous "performances") 7.Brad Haddin 8.Ajit Agarkar(can score a 23 ball fifty and still manage 8 ducks in a row) 9.Dilhara Fernando (only predictable thing is that he will bowl 3 no balls/wides at the least) 10.Steve Harmison 11.Henry Olonga(gets his place due to country quota)

    PS: Sehwag or Yuvraj Singh could have made into the team 3 years ago.

  • Simon Smith on March 19, 2009, 17:08 GMT

    Dull was certainly the word. The pitches were terrible, and this isn't an Englishman moaning as some WI's have said. I'd have loved to see more of Edwards trying to kill KP, I'd have loved to see that giant Benn extract more turn so he'd have had more to talk about to anyone who'd listen and I'd have loved to see Broad and Anderson get some reward for their efforts. Then there was the refferal system, but we've talked about that. This was the series that almost made me give up on cricket completely and I fear for my favourite game. I find myself caring less and less whenever England tour because I know what the result will be.

    As for Monty he doesn't need a referal coach he needs someone to tell him the rules because he clearly doesn't understand the LBW rule. Having said all that well done to the West Indies I am so pleased for them and in the spirit of a love of competition I can't wait for them to come here and for them to see what swing and seam are.

  • Dim Rat on March 19, 2009, 17:26 GMT

    very droll andy. if your unpredictable XI is anything like your titans of tedium, am sure your fanbase will grow further. I agree with most of Bala's choices, except perhaps Haddin, which i think is a bit harsh given he's barely started. Dilhara should definitely be in though. All hail the No Ball king!