Ashes August 9, 2009

A quick Sunday stat

38

As I write, Broad and Prior are launching a spectacular Headingley-81-style fightback – a blazing partnership that has so far brought 22 defiant runs in just 20-odd minutes. Whether this develops into the 350-plus stand that might give Graham Onions a chance to do a Bob Willis remains to be seen, so, with the game still poised so delicately in the balance, here is a statistic for you.

England’s number 3, 4 and 5 have in this game posted the worst ever Test performance by and England 3-4-5. The worst. In 890 Tests. Even counting matches when nightwatchmen have broken up the 3-4-5. Even in 19th-century games when the wickets sometimes literally had snakes in them. Ouch. (Counting only games in which numbers 3, 4 and 5 have been dismissed twice, which seems fair in the circumstances.)

Bopara, Bell and Collingwood mustered 16 runs between them in their six innings. Even by the most positive-taking of modern standards, this was ‘a bit disappointing’ and ‘something that needs building on’.

In fact it was the equal third worst performance by numbers 3 to 5 in the batting order in all Test history (excluding South Africa at Melbourne in 1931-2, when they used a completely different 3-5 in the second innings, to spectacular effect – Bell, Mitchell and Cameron managed to double the 5 runs accumulated by Christy, Taylor an Viljoen in the first).

South Africa can proudly claim both first and second place in this list of shame. They managed 12 in a Test in 1888-89, at a time when they still pretty much pitched up at the ground and asked passers-by if they fancied a game of cricket for a couple of days. And, least triumphantly of all, Keith, Endean and McLean – not the worst 3-5 in Test history by any measure – amassed 6 runs in the 1955 Oval Test. Scores of 5, 0 and 1 in the first innings paved the way for three second-knock ducks as Laker and Lock filled their spinny boots on a turning wicket.

So at least Bopara, Bell and Collingwood can claim to have done 166% better than the 1955 South African 3-to-5. A small consolation as they take their place in English cricket’s slightly embarrassed history books.

[A quick update – Prior is out. I daresay the odds are now even longer the 500-1 England defied 28 years ago. But Broad has just been dropped by Siddle. Could that be the crucial turning point? No. No. No. It could not.]

For English masochists, those who dislike England for whatever reason, and those who simply love the statistics of failure, here is a list of the worst ever performances by an England 3, 4 and 5. Please ignore if you are of a sensitive disposition, or closely related to the three batsmen involved. Thanks be to Statsguru.

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

  • Nathan on August 18, 2009, 3:53 GMT

    Another enjoyable read Andy, though perhaps a touch more 'serious' than most of your other columns. @Mark ... I think Mel has a point. Bringing up the names of just 3 overseas born players that have represented Australia is not quite the same as the ICC World XI that has represented England for many years. @Mark Checkley - 'Every Club Cricketer knows that if your plans are disrupted before the game, you FIELD' ... what the?!?! That worked a treat for Ponting in 2005 when Pigeon injured himself before the start of the second test. I've read some crazy things in these forums but your statement is right up there!

  • waterbuffalo on August 14, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    At the start of the series in this column I said that Bopara would be found out. Easy to be a number three on the featherbeds of the Carribean or when the opposition would rather be playing T20, but against the Aussies you have to fight fire with fire. This guy puts everything in the air (Bopara)but you all know that already. What is surprising is that the names being tossed around as replacements are Trescothick and Ramprakash (combined age 76?). This points to a serious problem in depth as far as batting goes. Vaughan on one leg is better than Bopara or Bell, and it is obvious that Collingwood misses the confidence and aggression that Pieterson displays whilst batting at the other end. England do not have a hope of winning the last test which is a shame because they had the Aussies down and out and let them perform "the Great Escape". One century in four tests as opposed to 7 for the Aussies? The English should be glad it is only 1-1.

  • MartinAmber on August 10, 2009, 16:03 GMT

    Sri: "Why is it that there are so few names to turn to...?"

    That'll be the closed shop that saw England pick the same top five or six, regardless of form or opposition, for three and a half years after the 2005 Ashes. And now we sow what we reaped: everyone's scared to throw in a debutant, and the only alternatives are the romantic choice (Ramps), the fantasist's choice (Tres) and the pragmatic but unsatisfactory choice (Key).

    Also, it's perversely gratifying (even for an Englishman) for those of us who have actually watched plenty of cricket since 2005 to be proven right about this Australian side. The number of times I've seen North or Johnson written off by our media, or Australia described as a bunch of no-names.

    Well here's the news. Ravi Bopara, described as "sublime" for taking apart the pathetic West Indians, is the ultimate no-name of this summer. According to Justin Langer, you don't even need to sledge him!

  • Alex on August 10, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Austrlia are better than England and always will be.

  • Alex on August 10, 2009, 11:06 GMT

    Australia is still the best team in the world. This series has seen England swing the ball which is all they're capable of. As for "freddie" flintoff, look at the statistics, he hasn't done much over his career, you can say he's a great bowler and bastman but get real, he's useless. Cook; fends the ball and bores the bowlers, Strauss;cracks under pressure, always has an excuse, Bopara; go play some twenty/20 cricket, bell; county cricket is the go, Collinwood; traditional pommy batsman, boring as ****, Prior; can be a good keeper, makes his big scores against the west indies, broad; no way is he close to an all-rounder, or at least a good one, he's an all-rounder at sucking if possible?, Swann; bowled one good ball in his career, he can slog it and slog only,harmison; bowls short and crap, anderson; needs swing and is still useless, onions;get a real last name, another useless player. Australia just seem to beat Enlgand at everything,Australias are the best, Ponting's a star. ;D

  • jay on August 10, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    With Langer's leaked memo(deliberately?) and the Aussie Fanatics admitting to having set off the fire alarm in the English team hotel, suddenly it is no longer a game. It is obvious that the Aussies will stoop very very low to achieve their aims. What about legal action against the Fanatics--- not just the English team but every guest in the hotel was affected by their sick joke, what if a sick person had suffered a heart attack as a result of the stress caused by evacuation at 4am.

  • elling 45 on August 10, 2009, 9:14 GMT

    No doubting that the Aussies outplayed us in this match but lets not panic guys that just what the Aussies want. Bringing back semi retired test players and playing an out of form spinner is something the baggy greens will be relishing. There is no doubt that Ravi and Ian Bell dont inspire confidence but Graham Gooch started his test career with a pair so dont give up on them yet. Backbone is what is missing the most so maybe Rob Key coming in would help, I feel he has a calm about him and does'nt appear to worry too much about things.As for Langers dossier, well at first I was anoyed at his patronising comments about some of Englands players but have changed my mind since yesterdays result but still feel that England should stick it on the dressing room door at the Oval and use it as inspiration, I bet the Aussies would.

  • Sri on August 10, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    Why is it that there are so few names in the hat to turn to when the incumbent lot of English batsmen fail to deliver? When it was Bell under the cosh just a few months ago,everyone wanted Shah - we all know how that turned out. Then, due to a stroke of good fortune, Bopara churned out 3 centuries in a row against an average bowling attack, and suddenly, he was God's gift to the English team. Key has always been in the frame. Ramprakash is as prolific as ever in the county circuit, although he is realistically never going to be in serious contention for a place in the national side again. Vaughan did everyone a favour by putting himself out of contention. Can nobody find a genuine set of top order batsmen in the country beyond this handful? Unless the selectors identify 20 such batsmen fresh off the county circuit and groom them for test cricket, we'll still be dishing out the same few names for the foreseeable future, with predictable results.

  • craig salotti on August 10, 2009, 7:23 GMT

    The Poms have no chance at all of winning the last test, and very little chance of even salvaging a draw, which is still a loss for them. Their fragile minds and the pressure of their nation and press will see to that, as it has for countless years. This is evident in all sports England compete in. They have the "best football league in the world" and can't even muster a win in any significant competition. The return of the broken Freddy Flintoff will not be enough for the English side, which needs to be cleaned out and requires many, many years of rebuilding to find some decent players and talismanic players, which the team seem unable to win without.

  • P.Satish on August 10, 2009, 7:11 GMT

    Hey, back off all the Bell-haters!! At least of those three Bell was the only one who played as per plan. I mean it is an open secret that Bell's average becomes 999.4 when playing Bangladesh while it becomes 9.994 when the big boys come to play. So he is pretty much doing whats expected of him!!

    Bopara, hmmm, interesting to note that Tendulkar only backed him as a talent. Maybe Bopara took to it to mean he is the next Tendulkar i.e. "Boparar"??!!?? Or maybe "Tendulkara" was the original Bopara??!!??

  • Nathan on August 18, 2009, 3:53 GMT

    Another enjoyable read Andy, though perhaps a touch more 'serious' than most of your other columns. @Mark ... I think Mel has a point. Bringing up the names of just 3 overseas born players that have represented Australia is not quite the same as the ICC World XI that has represented England for many years. @Mark Checkley - 'Every Club Cricketer knows that if your plans are disrupted before the game, you FIELD' ... what the?!?! That worked a treat for Ponting in 2005 when Pigeon injured himself before the start of the second test. I've read some crazy things in these forums but your statement is right up there!

  • waterbuffalo on August 14, 2009, 12:19 GMT

    At the start of the series in this column I said that Bopara would be found out. Easy to be a number three on the featherbeds of the Carribean or when the opposition would rather be playing T20, but against the Aussies you have to fight fire with fire. This guy puts everything in the air (Bopara)but you all know that already. What is surprising is that the names being tossed around as replacements are Trescothick and Ramprakash (combined age 76?). This points to a serious problem in depth as far as batting goes. Vaughan on one leg is better than Bopara or Bell, and it is obvious that Collingwood misses the confidence and aggression that Pieterson displays whilst batting at the other end. England do not have a hope of winning the last test which is a shame because they had the Aussies down and out and let them perform "the Great Escape". One century in four tests as opposed to 7 for the Aussies? The English should be glad it is only 1-1.

  • MartinAmber on August 10, 2009, 16:03 GMT

    Sri: "Why is it that there are so few names to turn to...?"

    That'll be the closed shop that saw England pick the same top five or six, regardless of form or opposition, for three and a half years after the 2005 Ashes. And now we sow what we reaped: everyone's scared to throw in a debutant, and the only alternatives are the romantic choice (Ramps), the fantasist's choice (Tres) and the pragmatic but unsatisfactory choice (Key).

    Also, it's perversely gratifying (even for an Englishman) for those of us who have actually watched plenty of cricket since 2005 to be proven right about this Australian side. The number of times I've seen North or Johnson written off by our media, or Australia described as a bunch of no-names.

    Well here's the news. Ravi Bopara, described as "sublime" for taking apart the pathetic West Indians, is the ultimate no-name of this summer. According to Justin Langer, you don't even need to sledge him!

  • Alex on August 10, 2009, 11:35 GMT

    Austrlia are better than England and always will be.

  • Alex on August 10, 2009, 11:06 GMT

    Australia is still the best team in the world. This series has seen England swing the ball which is all they're capable of. As for "freddie" flintoff, look at the statistics, he hasn't done much over his career, you can say he's a great bowler and bastman but get real, he's useless. Cook; fends the ball and bores the bowlers, Strauss;cracks under pressure, always has an excuse, Bopara; go play some twenty/20 cricket, bell; county cricket is the go, Collinwood; traditional pommy batsman, boring as ****, Prior; can be a good keeper, makes his big scores against the west indies, broad; no way is he close to an all-rounder, or at least a good one, he's an all-rounder at sucking if possible?, Swann; bowled one good ball in his career, he can slog it and slog only,harmison; bowls short and crap, anderson; needs swing and is still useless, onions;get a real last name, another useless player. Australia just seem to beat Enlgand at everything,Australias are the best, Ponting's a star. ;D

  • jay on August 10, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    With Langer's leaked memo(deliberately?) and the Aussie Fanatics admitting to having set off the fire alarm in the English team hotel, suddenly it is no longer a game. It is obvious that the Aussies will stoop very very low to achieve their aims. What about legal action against the Fanatics--- not just the English team but every guest in the hotel was affected by their sick joke, what if a sick person had suffered a heart attack as a result of the stress caused by evacuation at 4am.

  • elling 45 on August 10, 2009, 9:14 GMT

    No doubting that the Aussies outplayed us in this match but lets not panic guys that just what the Aussies want. Bringing back semi retired test players and playing an out of form spinner is something the baggy greens will be relishing. There is no doubt that Ravi and Ian Bell dont inspire confidence but Graham Gooch started his test career with a pair so dont give up on them yet. Backbone is what is missing the most so maybe Rob Key coming in would help, I feel he has a calm about him and does'nt appear to worry too much about things.As for Langers dossier, well at first I was anoyed at his patronising comments about some of Englands players but have changed my mind since yesterdays result but still feel that England should stick it on the dressing room door at the Oval and use it as inspiration, I bet the Aussies would.

  • Sri on August 10, 2009, 8:17 GMT

    Why is it that there are so few names in the hat to turn to when the incumbent lot of English batsmen fail to deliver? When it was Bell under the cosh just a few months ago,everyone wanted Shah - we all know how that turned out. Then, due to a stroke of good fortune, Bopara churned out 3 centuries in a row against an average bowling attack, and suddenly, he was God's gift to the English team. Key has always been in the frame. Ramprakash is as prolific as ever in the county circuit, although he is realistically never going to be in serious contention for a place in the national side again. Vaughan did everyone a favour by putting himself out of contention. Can nobody find a genuine set of top order batsmen in the country beyond this handful? Unless the selectors identify 20 such batsmen fresh off the county circuit and groom them for test cricket, we'll still be dishing out the same few names for the foreseeable future, with predictable results.

  • craig salotti on August 10, 2009, 7:23 GMT

    The Poms have no chance at all of winning the last test, and very little chance of even salvaging a draw, which is still a loss for them. Their fragile minds and the pressure of their nation and press will see to that, as it has for countless years. This is evident in all sports England compete in. They have the "best football league in the world" and can't even muster a win in any significant competition. The return of the broken Freddy Flintoff will not be enough for the English side, which needs to be cleaned out and requires many, many years of rebuilding to find some decent players and talismanic players, which the team seem unable to win without.

  • P.Satish on August 10, 2009, 7:11 GMT

    Hey, back off all the Bell-haters!! At least of those three Bell was the only one who played as per plan. I mean it is an open secret that Bell's average becomes 999.4 when playing Bangladesh while it becomes 9.994 when the big boys come to play. So he is pretty much doing whats expected of him!!

    Bopara, hmmm, interesting to note that Tendulkar only backed him as a talent. Maybe Bopara took to it to mean he is the next Tendulkar i.e. "Boparar"??!!?? Or maybe "Tendulkara" was the original Bopara??!!??

  • andrew schulz on August 10, 2009, 5:34 GMT

    Adnan Carrim. You say you are watching the Ashes closely. At lunch on day 3 you say England have a chance of making Australia bat again. And you say England have had a poor run with the umpires. Out of millions of false statements that have been made about this Ashes series, these would have to be the three most false.

  • swaminathan n on August 10, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    I tink andrew strauss will have to eat his own words"australia lost its aura".Aussies never lot a hint of supreme touch.I like their fighting quality.They are still a no1 side in the world.You cant write off aussies at any point of time.It is a cricket frenzied nation.Johnson proved what he is capable of.what poms have to say?canwe say england lost its aura after freddie flintoff retirement from this series.wat say andrew strauss?

  • Billybob on August 10, 2009, 3:14 GMT

    The plain truth is this: Australia should have won the first test but came very close. England played better in the 2nd test but if it wasn't for crap umpiring, Australia may well have come back and won that match.The third test was a waste of time and the fourth test England were gang raped and lost. England were at their best (in other words Freddie was) at lords and Australia only played more than 95% in this last match, before then they have been playing badly, even at Cardiff. Australia playing at anything over 90% and England have no chance.

  • Rusty on August 10, 2009, 3:02 GMT

    Mel, if national pride is "paramount" in Oz, what then, might it be in England, where matches begin with a patriotic hymn? where the Barmies chant and sing the anthem incessantly; and a half-crocked Flintoff is greeted with religious fervour; and he responds like JC Superstar at the 2nd Coming when he knocks over a tailender? YOu might want to reassess that skewed notion of yours.

    And funny how people still say Australia has no recognized spinner, when Hauritz has taken 10 wickets at an average of 32, from 3 matches; and Swann, a "recognized" spinner has only taken 6 at an average of 68, from 4 matches. Hauritz is no Warne - nor is anyone else - but he deserves some respect.

  • Jake on August 10, 2009, 2:51 GMT

    Andnam, the view must be a little blurred by the heat in Singapore. England should know what its like when their top batsmen don't score. In test number two, the top Aussie four were all given out when they were not... and England won that. England may have won it anyway, but no more nonsense about decisions not going their way or 'the injuries' made us lose ... England just needs to regroup with the fit players they have.

  • Andrew on August 10, 2009, 2:17 GMT

    I'm sorry. I wish it was not so, but Bell is just not up to the task. His 53 at Edgbaston was helped along by 2 not outs to plumb LBWs. As an English supporter of too many years living in Australia, I am sooooo tired of seeing the same faces pop up again and again. Surely there must be some new talent in the English county scene. After all they could not do worse than the current 3,4, and 5. If we keep Bopara then bat him at 5 or 6.

  • Harryvh on August 9, 2009, 23:09 GMT

    Mel: Don't worry, in Australia, national pride isn't paramount, winning is paramount! I believe, though I may be wrong, that Andrew Symonds is half West Indian adopted by English parents. That he played for Australia was simply a matter of Queensland having nice weather!

  • Alien Deity on August 9, 2009, 22:42 GMT

    Cook - NO. Bopara - NO. Bell - NO. Collingwood - NO. Onions - NO. Anderson - NO. Harmison - NO. Harmison - NO. Harmison - NO. Harmison - NO. You get the message.

    Strauss and the four blokes with the best county averages to do the batty work. The ECB can make it worth their while. Future ticket sales hang in the balance. Prior's safe, it seems.

    Shave the Oval pitch daily from now on, and play three spinners. We know two of them. Number three will emerge! Flintoff and Broad can bowl any old filth to take the shine off. Knighthoods are go!

    The Alien Deity has spoken.

  • trey on August 9, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    In all fairness to Australia they only find themselves going into a decider on the 5th test because of the umpiring decisions that went against them earlier in the series lets not be fanatics but say it as we see it

  • Mark on August 9, 2009, 21:39 GMT

    Mel...what about Kepler Wessels, for a start..he'd already played for S.A.. and the Aussies still played him..also Brendon Julien, Andrew Symonds...not many, off the top of my head, but a moot arguement I fear.

  • kay on August 9, 2009, 21:23 GMT

    @ Pat: Good point. At Edgbaston the ECB bribed rain gods to pour for 2 days so that we don't have dead rubbers for the 4th and 5th test matches. LOL. Come on buddy, when u make allegations u should have some proofs. If every match was played for money and fixed, don't you think the broadcasters would have asked for a 5-day match to make more money instead of a 2-and-a-half day match? Give credit where it's due. Australia outplayed England.

  • SanjayN on August 9, 2009, 19:32 GMT

    Looking thru Andy's list of worst ever English 3-5 performances, it's amazing how many times poor Derek Randall shows up in modern day Tests.

  • Mark Checkley on August 9, 2009, 19:26 GMT

    Firstly I don't understand why England, one-up in the series, went short on batting. You re-inforce the BATTING at the expense of the BOWLING when your opponent MUST WIN, increasing the chances of a draw. They should have packed the batting and told Collingwood to bring his bowling boots - if Australia made 750 for 3 deaclared that would not have been a disaster so long as it took them three days to do it. Secondly, why did England bat first when they had been thrown into chaos by a pre-game injury? Every Club Cricketer knows that if your plans are disrupted before the game, you FIELD. Strauss's mind (understandably) wasn't on the job; ten minutes earlier he'd been wondering if he needed a backup wicketkeeper (why was one not on hand, after the lesson of Haddin'd injury). If you BAT FIRST and it ALL GOES BADLY WRONG, you're out before you're in and the games gone. If you FIELD FIRST and it all goes wrong, you can regroup and fight for a draw. Poor thinking all through. Not imnpressed.

  • Jackie on August 9, 2009, 17:05 GMT

    Why move Bopara down the order after failing at 3? Bell was never given this chance even though he averaged 56 at 5. Bopara is not a Test cricketer. He failed down the order in Sri Lanka. Bell should bat at 5 like Clarke. Strauss is the best batsmen in the side at the moment. Move him to 3 and bring in an opener. Drop Ravi and let him be free for Twenty-20 which he is good at. Bell at least was out to some terrific bowling and he made 53 at Edgbaston in a good partnership with Strauss. Calls for Ramps make the ironic point that Ramps was treated in his time like Bell is now. Why don't we nurture talent? Bell was dropped instead of moving back to his most successful batting spot. Then when he hasn't played an International match for six months we expect him to slot back into the team. Much more useful if he had been protected down the order in the West Indies and here in England. Bell needs time to conquer the bowling. Johnson is a key bowler. Aura won't beat Johnson but skill might.

  • Mel on August 9, 2009, 16:43 GMT

    Selector/coach who is not England qualified. Captain who is not England born and raised. Would the same ever be tolerated in Australia where national pride is paramount?

  • Jay on August 9, 2009, 15:43 GMT

    Andy, have you noticed that the names of the infamous 3, 4 and 5 spell BBC. Aunty, where are you ?

  • Michael on August 9, 2009, 15:36 GMT

    adnan carrim Are you serious," .i mean England have the advantage at the moment still 1-0 up but then again i think they have been hampered by injuries and a spate of bad decisions not going their way"? Australia for the whole series have had an incredibly BAD run with the umpires. Look at the first innings of this game, 4 LBW's with 2 Not Out for sure. Also first ball of Englands first innings, Strauus PLUM and given Not Out. No, I dont think you have been watching very closely............

  • pat on August 9, 2009, 14:54 GMT

    Da match was fixed! Conspiracy alert! As the (other) dossier unreleased to the presses clearly shows, England was given orders to not win this match at all costs so that the final Test wouldn't be a dead rubber. Blame the broadcasters!

    PS: Is Tresco available for home Tests?

  • Vishal on August 9, 2009, 14:45 GMT

    Strauss, Cook, Key, Bopara or Trott, Prior, Collingwood and Foster as the top 7 for the Oval. 3 is not the spot for Bopara, let the top 3 set the game up, and then let Ravi and Prior play their natrual game.

    Broad, outside of the easy runs he gets, cannot continue to bowl with a high 30's average. Pick Swann, Anderson if fit, Flintoff and Onions.

    It's a one off test, pick the best team to win this game then worry about the future selections after that.

  • Benn on August 9, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Where's Ramps in all of this?

  • Starkadder on August 9, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    No problems, possums. Even stevens now. Makes the last Test worth watching. If anyone deserves criticism it is the Umpires Board fetching up a bunch of ne'er-do-wells throughout the series. I love the Ashes and, yes, as an Australian, I love watching England get thumped. But I also love great Test cricket and I've pretty much liked every Englishmen I've ever met (except for a Yorkshireman doing a lobster impersonation at a Sydney Test several years ago - very unattractive). Playing cricket is a hoot. Watching it can be almost as good. Enjoy a series that's see-sawed down to the wire.

    After all, it's only a game with a bat and a ball.

  • Starkadder on August 9, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    No problems, possums. Even stevens now. Makes the last Test worth watching. If anyone deserves criticism it is the Umpires Board fetching up a bunch of ne'er-do-wells throughout the series. I love the Ashes and, yes, as an Australian, I love watching England get thumped. But I also love great Test cricket and I've pretty much liked every Englishmen I've ever met (except for a Yorkshireman doing a lobster impersonation at a Sydney Test several years ago - very unattractive). Playing cricket is a hoot. Watching it can be almost as good. Enjoy a series that's see-sawed down to the wire.

    After all, it's only a game with a bat and a ball.

  • colin on August 9, 2009, 13:13 GMT

    All wishful thinking.

  • faisal on August 9, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    you bet,at least those rookies give me some frustrating moments altogether.what is realy entertaining though that those few shots not only give the bermy army something to roar but also sir botham's a reminiscence of what he might consider his greatest moment of cricketing career.Sadly,thunder will not strike into the same place twice apart from your wonderfully cultivated head along with permed hair.Guess what,stuart broad is going to be at no-3,and he should be instead of bopara,as he find himself in that position so muddled,if the selectors of ECB are smart enough like those of aussies.

  • mike dewis on August 9, 2009, 12:01 GMT

    Andy, I love you in a manly way! Thanks for the 5 live podcasts, and thank you for making my misery over England almost bearable! I have had to leave the country and am now in Poland. I will teach them cricket and hopefully find us a new middle order for the Oval, qualifying restrictions permittting of course.

  • Jacob on August 9, 2009, 11:40 GMT

    England's batsmen just need to aim for good areas, ie not into fielder's hands. Simple. All about good areas.

  • ben gunn on August 9, 2009, 11:40 GMT

    Broad for King,Swann as Prime Minister...court jester?

  • adnan carrim on August 9, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    I am from singapore and i am watching the ashes very closely..to be fair,its been a see-saw ride for both teams...i mean England have the advantage at the moment still 1-0 up but then again i think they have been hampered by injuries and a spate of bad decisions not going their way.Australia on the other hand have totally dominated proceedings in this 4th test and to be fair, they have shown steel and determination to come back and tie the series one apiece..much will depend on stuart broad as well as the England's tail to weather the storm.Wont discount the fact that australia have got no recognised spinner in the team so it would be safe to say that England can probably make Australia bat again if they can bat sensibly on the third and fourth day..

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • adnan carrim on August 9, 2009, 11:30 GMT

    I am from singapore and i am watching the ashes very closely..to be fair,its been a see-saw ride for both teams...i mean England have the advantage at the moment still 1-0 up but then again i think they have been hampered by injuries and a spate of bad decisions not going their way.Australia on the other hand have totally dominated proceedings in this 4th test and to be fair, they have shown steel and determination to come back and tie the series one apiece..much will depend on stuart broad as well as the England's tail to weather the storm.Wont discount the fact that australia have got no recognised spinner in the team so it would be safe to say that England can probably make Australia bat again if they can bat sensibly on the third and fourth day..

  • ben gunn on August 9, 2009, 11:40 GMT

    Broad for King,Swann as Prime Minister...court jester?

  • Jacob on August 9, 2009, 11:40 GMT

    England's batsmen just need to aim for good areas, ie not into fielder's hands. Simple. All about good areas.

  • mike dewis on August 9, 2009, 12:01 GMT

    Andy, I love you in a manly way! Thanks for the 5 live podcasts, and thank you for making my misery over England almost bearable! I have had to leave the country and am now in Poland. I will teach them cricket and hopefully find us a new middle order for the Oval, qualifying restrictions permittting of course.

  • faisal on August 9, 2009, 12:21 GMT

    you bet,at least those rookies give me some frustrating moments altogether.what is realy entertaining though that those few shots not only give the bermy army something to roar but also sir botham's a reminiscence of what he might consider his greatest moment of cricketing career.Sadly,thunder will not strike into the same place twice apart from your wonderfully cultivated head along with permed hair.Guess what,stuart broad is going to be at no-3,and he should be instead of bopara,as he find himself in that position so muddled,if the selectors of ECB are smart enough like those of aussies.

  • colin on August 9, 2009, 13:13 GMT

    All wishful thinking.

  • Starkadder on August 9, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    No problems, possums. Even stevens now. Makes the last Test worth watching. If anyone deserves criticism it is the Umpires Board fetching up a bunch of ne'er-do-wells throughout the series. I love the Ashes and, yes, as an Australian, I love watching England get thumped. But I also love great Test cricket and I've pretty much liked every Englishmen I've ever met (except for a Yorkshireman doing a lobster impersonation at a Sydney Test several years ago - very unattractive). Playing cricket is a hoot. Watching it can be almost as good. Enjoy a series that's see-sawed down to the wire.

    After all, it's only a game with a bat and a ball.

  • Starkadder on August 9, 2009, 13:16 GMT

    No problems, possums. Even stevens now. Makes the last Test worth watching. If anyone deserves criticism it is the Umpires Board fetching up a bunch of ne'er-do-wells throughout the series. I love the Ashes and, yes, as an Australian, I love watching England get thumped. But I also love great Test cricket and I've pretty much liked every Englishmen I've ever met (except for a Yorkshireman doing a lobster impersonation at a Sydney Test several years ago - very unattractive). Playing cricket is a hoot. Watching it can be almost as good. Enjoy a series that's see-sawed down to the wire.

    After all, it's only a game with a bat and a ball.

  • Benn on August 9, 2009, 14:00 GMT

    Where's Ramps in all of this?

  • Vishal on August 9, 2009, 14:45 GMT

    Strauss, Cook, Key, Bopara or Trott, Prior, Collingwood and Foster as the top 7 for the Oval. 3 is not the spot for Bopara, let the top 3 set the game up, and then let Ravi and Prior play their natrual game.

    Broad, outside of the easy runs he gets, cannot continue to bowl with a high 30's average. Pick Swann, Anderson if fit, Flintoff and Onions.

    It's a one off test, pick the best team to win this game then worry about the future selections after that.