Ashes October 1, 2010

The losing XI (and back-up)

In the Ashes squad - Part Two, Andy Zaltzman advises Steve Davies to fake an illness and skip the Ashes, and asks you trick questions about Strauss and KP
80

Having sought the assistance of Big Mama Stats to prove why England will definitely, decisively and unarguably win the Ashes, I will now ask her to prove that Andrew Strauss and his men are heading for a definite, decisive and unarguable pulping.

(Please do not read this piece in isolation – I realise that, without the context of Part One, this might look like gratuitous numerical hatchet job on a highly successful team. But still, numbers are numbers, and they deserve their say as much as the other great tools of sports punditry, such as experience, perception, gut feeling, rampant jingoism, selective memory, blind optimism and/or pessimism, and, above all, guesswork.)

THE ASHES-LOSING ENGLAND XI, 2010-11

Strauss Deceptively inconsistent throughout his Test career, for one who is outwardly as unflappable as a granite pterodactyl’s wing. Strauss seems to have a bizarre and inexplicable fixation with averaging between 24 and 26 in series of longer than three Tests – he has done so in five of England’s last seven such rubbers.

These include the last two major series, in South Africa and at home against Pakistan (in which his highest score in eight matches was 54), and his previous tour of Australia, on the supposed 2006-07 Ashes, when he allegedly averaged 24 if Australia claims are to be believed. He has not scored a century for 13 Tests, and only one in his last 17.

As a captain, he masterminded England’s 2009 Ashes triumph by sitting in the pavilion in Cardiff quietly wetting himself whilst Anderson and Panesar held on for a draw, then skilfully led his team to a drawn series in South Africa by doing the same thing twice more.

Cook Too often bats as if he is trying to befriend the slip cordon, his legs, arms and bat moving like frantic passengers at a busy station all heading for different trains. Averages just 26 in 10 Ashes Tests, and, since the start of the last Ashes tour, in 36 Tests against the top-seven ranked Test nations (i.e. excluding Bangladesh and West Indies), he averages just 33.

Trott The Cape Town Compulsive Twitcher averaged just 29 in his only previous winter of overseas Test cricket, as his game melted down like a dead zebra’s ice cream on his return to the country of his birth.

Pietersen Here’s a question for you: What do Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen have in common? Is it: (a) they were both born in South Africa; (b) when they eat a fishfinger, they both nibble the top corners off first to make it look like a fish cricket bat; (c) neither of them has read War And Peace, start to finish, in the original Russian; (d) they were both shortlisted for the role of Tim Curtis in the forthcoming Hollywood blockbuster The Savage Blade, the $150-million biopic of the former Worcestershire and England opening batsman (in the end, the part of three-Test wonder Curtis was given to Vin Diesel, with Kiefer Sutherland as county team-mate Stuart Lampitt, and Scarlett Johannson as England chairman of selectors Petra May); or (e) they have both averaged under 26 in England’s last two major series?

It was a trick question. The answer is of course: all of the above. In his last six series, over 16 Tests, Pietersen has averaged 35, with no centuries, and has plinked only five sixes from his once explosive bat. He is far from the dominator he once was. He hit 32 sixes in his first 18 Tests, but has crossed the ropes just 21 times in 48 matches since then, whilst his scoring rate has dropped by 20%. Pietersen needs to regrow his successful, almost unstoppable 2005 badger hair. It was a source of strength and inspiration for him, and fear and confusion for the Australians.

Collingwood The glue holding England’s batting together has been decidedly unsticky of late – he has posted six single-figure scores in his last eight Test innings. In his last 17 Tests, he has scored just one century and averaged a sedate 37. In the eight Ashes Tests since his Adelaide masterwork (“The Sistine Chapel ceiling of Durhamite batsmanship” – The Durham Weekly Sprout), Collingwood averages a Brearley-esque 23.

Bell The Flamethrower Of Eternal Justice averages a piddling 25 against Australia in 13 Tests, dreamy cover drive or no dreamy cover drive. The latter, in most of his Ashes innings – Eternal Justice has trousered a scarcely believable 14 single-figure scores in just 25 Ashes innings.

Could be vulnerable to verbal attack. On his last tour of Baggygreenland, the Australians, masters of psychological intimidation that they are, sledged him using techniques they had clearly learnt from CIA terrorist interrogators – they teased him about looking a bit like someone from a film. “What works in Guantanamo, works at the MCG,” explained captain Ricky Ponting, as he scuttled off to try and put an orange jumpsuit on Alastair Cook.

Prior As a wicketkeeper, his handling skills were once compared to those of a baby-hating midwife. This is not true, but the point stands. As a batsman, in his 14 Tests against the three highest-ranked teams of recent years (Australia, India, and South Africa), Prior averages 26, with no centuries.

More pressingly, Prior, about to make his first trip to Australia, will be fretting bucketloads about his future career prospects. England have changed their wicketkeeper in four of their last five Ashes tours. The last five keepers to don the gloves for England in Australia for the first time have never played Test cricket again after the end of that series – Rhodes in 1994-95, Hegg in 1998-99, Foster in 2002-03, and Jones and Read in 2006-07.

Alec Stewart in 1990-91 is the last England gloveman whose career was not ended by his first Ashes tour, and that series was also the last England jaunt to Australia that did not signal the total annihilation of a wicketkeeper’s Test existence. Even then, established first-choice Jack Russell was jettisoned after three Tests, and was in and out of the team for the rest of his battered-hat-festooned career. Furthermore, in 1986-87, Jack Richards kept wicket in all five Tests as England triumphed. He was promptly dropped for the first Test of the following summer, played only three more times, and never passed double figures again.

Since Alan Knott, England’s wicketkeepers in Australia have averaged 20.66 in 45 Tests, with one century and five fifties, all whilst crawling along at a fraction over two runs per over. In summary, Australia is a bad place for English wicketkeepers.

Swann Is Graeme Swann: (a) the world’s most valuable all-round cricketer who holds the key to England’s Ashes hopes; or (b) a fortuitous chancer who has buffed up his bowling average against some of Test history’s most inept batting line-ups? It’s another trick question. The answer is (a), with a bit of (b) thrown in. Swann averaged 40 with the ball in his previous Ashes series, and, against the higher-ranked Test nations, averages close to 36. He averages just 15 with the bat in his last 11 Tests, with a highest score of 32.

Broad The man who puts the “petulant” into “often needlessly petulant” has seldom produced for England overseas – he averages 37 with the ball and just 14 with the bat in away Tests (compared to 32 and 39 at home). He has not taken five wickets in an innings since that Ashes-winning apparent breakthrough at The Oval in 2009, and has never averaged more than four wickets per game in a series.

Anderson Could win the Ashes single-handedly. If they were being played in cloudy conditions in England, with Pakistan’s batsmen playing for Australia. Sadly, that is a big “if”. Perhaps the biggest “if” since Rudyard Kipling started projecting the titles of his poems onto the skies above Gotham City. The Ashes will not be held in England with Pakistani batsman. Not this year. Anderson has taken just 17 wickets in eight Tests against Australia, at an average of 56. Over his whole career, in overseas Tests, he has taken 52 wickets at an average of almost 44.

Finn Struggled to take wickets in his two previous overseas Tests, against Bangladesh, and tends to leak runs – his economy rate is 3.77 in Tests, 3.61 in first-class cricket. Finn is tall. Martin McCague was tall. He once bowled one of the worst opening spells in Ashes history. Logically, therefore, Finn will definitely do the same.

Finn has taken fewer Ashes wickets than, amongst others, Len Hutton, Uzman Afzaal, Ranjitsinhji, and Alan Igglesden (and I guarantee that is the first time in human history that those four names have appeared in the same sentence). Finn can play the “lack-of-opportunity” card as hard as he likes, but the fact remains that he has taken the same number of Australian Test wickets as actress Julie Christie, controversial former professional pope Pope Pius XII, my wife, Diego Maradona and 1997 England one-cap left-armer Mike Smith.

BACK-UP

Morgan His brilliant array of strokes will not be of much use if his technical flaws against seam bowling continue to rear their indecisively-fiddling-outside-off-stump heads. He has scored just 103 of his 257 Test runs against pace, and been dismissed six times by quicks (compared to 154 runs for once out against spin and dobblers).

Davies He could become the first English-born wicketkeeper to make his debut for England since James Foster in 2001 – the previous five England-born glovemen to debut for England since Alec Stewart (Foster, Read, Hegg, Rhodes and Blakey) have, between them, averaged 19 with the bat in careers lasting an average of seven Tests.

Also, see Prior’s entry above for the fortunes of England’s wicketkeepers in Australia. In addition to that list of woe, of England’s reserve wicketkeepers on Ashes tours, Gould (1982-83) never played in a Test match at all, Tolchard (78-79) never added to his four caps, Taylor (70-71 and 74-75) played one Test in New Zealand at the end of the 70-71 tour then waited seven years and a Packer revolution for his next. Going further back, surprise first-choice AC Smith never played another Test after the 1962-63 tour, back-up keepers Keith Andrew and Arthur McIntyre played only one Test each after their tours 1954-55 in 1950-51 respectively, Paul Gibb never played again after the 1946-47 tour. Nor George Duckworth after 1936-37. Dodger Whysall played just once after 1924-25. Arthur Dolphin never played after 1920-21. I’m boring myself now. The point is: Davies should fake a serious illness if he wants to have a future as an international cricketer.

Bresnan He struggled to hit the ball off the square or take wickets in his Tests against Bangladesh; expensive and unpenetrative in ODIs this summer; has had a poor first-class season for Yorkshire. No current reports of anyone in the Australian squad waking up in the middle of the night sweating and screaming, before clambering into their parents’ bed, and asking, “Mummy and Daddy, is it OK if I sleep in your bed again? I’ve had another nightmare about Tim Bresnan.”

Panesar He has spent much of his recent international career on a learning curve. Unfortunately, that curve has been heading downwards. He averages over 40 in his most recent 22 Tests − the reincarnation of Ashley Giles himself, but with the useful batting and fielding having gone AWOL during the changeover. Monty averages 44 in 17 overseas Tests. His batting has never kicked on from the promise shown in that one straight drive he hit in Perth four years ago that had critics excitedly hailing the new Garry Sobers. And he fields as if he has read the wrong instruction manual, but refuses to back down.

Tremlett He has taken little over three wickets per match in county cricket over the course of his career. The last time England took a temperamentally suspect giant fast bowler to Australia, the first ball of the series almost killed second slip.

It all looks very, very bleak for England. If you ignore the last blog. And it all looks fantastic if you ignore this one. Statistics are a fickle mistress. I think it will be a close series. Two-all. Or 5-0 either way.

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

  • blogs.espncricinfo.com on June 24, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    The_losing_xi_and_backup.. May I repost it? :)

  • blogs.espncricinfo.com on May 10, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    The_losing_xi_and_backup.. OMG! :)

  • lordy on December 30, 2010, 22:50 GMT

    Wow...love reading this just as england retain the ashes and the aussies made to look fools.....ahhh bliss

  • Roddy on November 12, 2010, 3:25 GMT

    Brilliant as always! Just to say that 'The man who puts the “petulant” into “often needlessly petulant” ' has made me chuckle every time I've remembered it in the days since reading the article!

  • Hitesh on November 10, 2010, 8:27 GMT

    Great Stuff to read and enjoy

  • Hassaan on October 16, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    Andy you are frikkin' owsume!!! You the best m8tey!! U rock!!

    EPIC POST!!

  • Dr Ned on October 15, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Yes, the only people having nightmares about Tim Bresnan are English cricket fans! Andy, you have highlighted a few problems-Collingwood's lack of runs, Anderson's inability to travel and the lack of any big series winning performances from KP.

    But, yes, you are right. Don't view this in isolation. People have called for a similar article on Australia. Do it, man! Ponting is a basket case. Clarke can't buy a run. Hussey can't buy a run because he doesn't know what one is. Hauritz not only has a name that sounds like a particularly bad sneeze, but is as much use in an Ashes series as Eddie Hemmings-without the padding or walrus whiskers. And for Bresnan read Peter George. Or Doug Bollinger. Or Mitchell Johnson.

    Great stuff Andy

  • Ashish on October 10, 2010, 18:19 GMT

    Super work as always. How about an Aussie winning & losing XI now??

  • Dr. Singh on October 8, 2010, 17:07 GMT

    The great thing about the Aussies is that they are the loudest and most arrogant when calling the shots but when proven wanting all goes remarkedly quiet. Australia are still a class act on their day but are effectively a spent force. Yes it will be a close fought contest but this buffon needs to show a little more respect for England's recent achievements.

  • ashwin on October 8, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    hilarious! how about doing a similar series on australia?

  • blogs.espncricinfo.com on June 24, 2011, 13:02 GMT

    The_losing_xi_and_backup.. May I repost it? :)

  • blogs.espncricinfo.com on May 10, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    The_losing_xi_and_backup.. OMG! :)

  • lordy on December 30, 2010, 22:50 GMT

    Wow...love reading this just as england retain the ashes and the aussies made to look fools.....ahhh bliss

  • Roddy on November 12, 2010, 3:25 GMT

    Brilliant as always! Just to say that 'The man who puts the “petulant” into “often needlessly petulant” ' has made me chuckle every time I've remembered it in the days since reading the article!

  • Hitesh on November 10, 2010, 8:27 GMT

    Great Stuff to read and enjoy

  • Hassaan on October 16, 2010, 11:01 GMT

    Andy you are frikkin' owsume!!! You the best m8tey!! U rock!!

    EPIC POST!!

  • Dr Ned on October 15, 2010, 9:01 GMT

    Yes, the only people having nightmares about Tim Bresnan are English cricket fans! Andy, you have highlighted a few problems-Collingwood's lack of runs, Anderson's inability to travel and the lack of any big series winning performances from KP.

    But, yes, you are right. Don't view this in isolation. People have called for a similar article on Australia. Do it, man! Ponting is a basket case. Clarke can't buy a run. Hussey can't buy a run because he doesn't know what one is. Hauritz not only has a name that sounds like a particularly bad sneeze, but is as much use in an Ashes series as Eddie Hemmings-without the padding or walrus whiskers. And for Bresnan read Peter George. Or Doug Bollinger. Or Mitchell Johnson.

    Great stuff Andy

  • Ashish on October 10, 2010, 18:19 GMT

    Super work as always. How about an Aussie winning & losing XI now??

  • Dr. Singh on October 8, 2010, 17:07 GMT

    The great thing about the Aussies is that they are the loudest and most arrogant when calling the shots but when proven wanting all goes remarkedly quiet. Australia are still a class act on their day but are effectively a spent force. Yes it will be a close fought contest but this buffon needs to show a little more respect for England's recent achievements.

  • ashwin on October 8, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    hilarious! how about doing a similar series on australia?

  • Bhaskar on October 8, 2010, 9:34 GMT

    Damning statistics, good luck England - despite a "mentally weak" Australia

  • Circe on October 7, 2010, 21:03 GMT

    So when is the first edition of A History of the Great Battle of Mohali of 2010, by Andy Zaltzman is going to see the light of day?

  • Circe on October 7, 2010, 20:59 GMT

    This is just to remind Andy that a few trillion cricket fans are waiting with bated breath for his exclusive report on the Great Battle of Mohali, 2010.

  • Rupayan on October 6, 2010, 17:12 GMT

    Very funny article without doubt but a lot of your stats is pretty biased..if its for the semi darkish humour damm well written but otherwise its so shallow...I am not a great fan of Bell...in fact i believe he is a great club class cricketer and nothing more but while he may have 14 single digit scores in 25 ashes innings, you miss the remaining 11 innings in the 13 odd tests which is quite good and therefore he performed alright in 11 out of 13 tests..i would like to know how many cricketers other than tendulkar and laxman have done that in the recent past against the Aussies..remember Andy statistics lies in numbers, quite literally..so dont demean your fellow english mates using nos...just that they dont have the heart to beat Australia is good enough for us..we always knew it:)

  • Ashish on October 6, 2010, 7:54 GMT

    Hey guys .. If you think this is side-splittingly-hilarious, you have not read Andy's earlier blogs .. I personally think, in recent times, Andy has been going through a bit of Ponting-in-India phase - some class peeking through every once in a while but you end up get a feeling that the man is getting along more on past reputation than actual reputation-validating performances on the field.. Dont know whats wrong Andy but am just not enjoying the blogs as I used to.. hope you get back to your sparkling ways soon

  • elegantstroke on October 5, 2010, 23:15 GMT

    Rolling on the floor with laughter. Great stuff Andy :) elegantstroke.blogspot.com

  • Lizzy Ammon on October 4, 2010, 22:51 GMT

    Absolutely up my strada. Half empty, we're gonna lose etc etc

    Hilarious piece Andy.

    legsidelizzy.com

  • Chris Ward on October 4, 2010, 3:29 GMT

    Trying not to laugh while reading this at work! Excellent!

  • Ashwin on October 4, 2010, 3:26 GMT

    THis is hilarious post i ve read in long time in Ashes run up....Too much effort with such a ease... THis wud rile up any Eng selector or player ...Wud love Andy to do same for Aussies as well..Plzz....

  • ali on October 3, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    Andy.... hahahahaha. you are 200% right man.

  • barry on October 3, 2010, 6:41 GMT

    is classic Andy. you should do a good/bad of the great teams. It could provide a good laugh for some inflated ego's

  • ankush satpute on October 3, 2010, 4:06 GMT

    Kp is the best .He is a world class player i hope he score 5 centuries in next month ashes series .He is my favourite player.

  • Prabhu on October 3, 2010, 3:22 GMT

    Andy, would also like to hear a similar story on why Aussies would lose the Ashes!

  • Icedagger on October 2, 2010, 17:49 GMT

    Hey Andy! Super Stuff...

  • Saikrishnan on October 2, 2010, 15:15 GMT

    @convict India came really close to winning in 2004 series (1-1) when the aussies were supposed to be at their peak of dominance... and i don't need to remind you about what happened in 2007 FYI Australia has won only one series in India in the last two decades and that too with some help from rain(Chennai) and a spat between Ganguly and pitch curator(Nagpur)

  • Andrew on October 2, 2010, 10:57 GMT

    The Confectionary Stall's second Tim Curtis reference in its still short history, and arguably the better of the two. Mr Zaltzman, I salute you.

  • CricketPissek on October 2, 2010, 9:38 GMT

    some commentors haven't heeded Andy's advice and read his previous article. So guys like Anand Shewale seem to be getting angry for no reason. hilarious articles

  • Arvind on October 2, 2010, 6:05 GMT

    Good one, Andy. Just wondering if you meant SIX top-ranked Test nations (unless you wanted to include Zimbabwe in that group to make it 7). No matter how much their batsmen and bowlers wished, they can't play against each other in a Test match (unless some of them migrate to SA, but that's a different matter).

  • doctore shivago on October 2, 2010, 4:47 GMT

    Funny classy..if your cricket writing career takes a toss..try stand up comedy

  • Gautam on October 2, 2010, 3:50 GMT

    Awesome as ever..... lol'd a coupla times ... Great 'findings' in the last 2 blogs... Btw..had a request.. as is the current flavor on Cricinfo (outside of Page 2)

    WOULD IMPLORE YOU TO GO ON AND PICK YOUR WORLD TEST 11 ... would make a splendid read

  • nishant on October 2, 2010, 3:45 GMT

    hilarious article, one abt tim bresnan was awesome. I dont why have they picked that chubby bowler. he will be meat & drink for aussie batsmen.. They should have picked ajmal sehzad who can bowl nippy reverse swing.

  • Andy on October 2, 2010, 3:23 GMT

    ohhhh fantastic stuff, what a riot. oz fan here...5-0 australia all the bloody way...

    oi oi oi aussieeeeeeeeeeee!!!

    lovely bit on the poms! absolutely right about panesar and anderson haha

  • Parth on October 2, 2010, 1:23 GMT

    is there a better writer than andy zaltzman on cricinfo???

  • convict on October 1, 2010, 23:58 GMT

    Excellent work! When did an Asian side last win a test series in Australia? Massive populous in India and Pakistan yet they still can't produce teams that are capable of winning in Dingoland. Too busy spot-fixing.

  • josh on October 1, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    so so true england mite pull maybe 1 draw thanks to broad but thats about it

  • Akshay on October 1, 2010, 21:54 GMT

    Absolutely hilarious, I have no idea how you can so easily manipulate statistics. Keep it up!

  • Texas opener on October 1, 2010, 21:54 GMT

    Great fun! Now are you going to do the same for those Baggy Green wearers?

  • Jonathan on October 1, 2010, 21:07 GMT

    England's batting is fragile and, with the exception of Swann, its bowling lacks penetration unless conditions are helpful.

    Of course, Australia are weaker than they have been for many years, but they have more talent and determination than England (look at the batting and bowling averages) and are playing in home conditions. They ought to be overwhelming favourites.

    In fact, England will only win the Ashers if Hauritz and Hilfenhaus open the batting and Ponting is used as a strike bowler.

    The rest is media speculation to attract audiences and keep the bookies happy.

  • Sreenath on October 1, 2010, 20:37 GMT

    Single most depressing piece of writing I've seen on a sports website since England's 5-0 loss the last time in Oz country.

  • Aritro Bhattacharya on October 1, 2010, 20:23 GMT

    “What works in Guantanamo, works at the MCG,” explained captain Ricky Ponting, as he scuttled off to try and put an orange jumpsuit on Alastair Cook.........LMAO........

  • vinny on October 1, 2010, 20:08 GMT

    Andy, If the Queen is even half-as-smart as you are funny, she should knight you......

    OTOH, I cannot believe that I have taken as many Australian wickets as Finn, sweet!!!

  • mike on October 1, 2010, 19:42 GMT

    No indeed it will not be the Australian batsmen running into their parent's bedrooms to hide from the Bresnan monster. It will be the English batsmen who do so knowing full well that if Bresnan is playing and England bowl first that this factor means Australia will declare at 650-3 shortly after lunch on the second day, and will be going out to bat for the second time in the day an hour before close, following on 500 behind, with their tour bonuses and plenty else on the line.

  • Ariz on October 1, 2010, 19:24 GMT

    As usual some good comments but at the same time the article not a Zaltzman-esque (I believe that its not a ghost-article). Some of the comments seem to be completely out of place, one such is second para on Finn. Ashes in England with Aussies playing Pakistani batsmen was class.

  • Anjel Ach on October 1, 2010, 18:53 GMT

    this is the funniest piece I've read in days and most of the pieces of Andy Zaltzman are funny but this was good too. Davies most be scared as hell after reading this article and not to forget the South African born Prior. I know for sure that as described Finn will struggle real bad and will leak runs as in charity mathces. Anderson on the other will struggle too but he'll be benifited by this line and lenght, he'll have to work with it very very hard. anyways I will love to see England triumph in Australia.

  • Vinai on October 1, 2010, 18:47 GMT

    Andy... Simply awesome stats....

  • Anonymous on October 1, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    this is the funniest piece I've read in days. Andy Zaltaman has the funniest piece in his armoury. Steven Davies must be scared as hell after reading this article and even Matt Prior. And even Anderson. he wrote some of the funniest stuffs abt the Pakistani batsmans and Ausssie not being the bowler friendly Paki's batsmans. I know for sure that Anderson will struggel in Aus and even Finn. England will regret their decision for not picking Ajmal Shazhad. they'll regret big time. hopefully the test series will a cruncher and the best of recent years...

  • ali on October 1, 2010, 18:41 GMT

    this is hilarious!!!! Just cant stop laughing. there is not much truth about the english team but i think this is it. Bye bye England, see u next time. Hehehe

  • jai kumar pun on October 1, 2010, 17:31 GMT

    What a joke! So England has no chance to win the Ashes! With these players, England has only 5% chance of winning the Ashes, isn't it?

  • sandy on October 1, 2010, 17:07 GMT

    I m sure England is no going to win a single test match in next Ashes series!

  • joe on October 1, 2010, 16:37 GMT

    lol

  • Vineet Gupta on October 1, 2010, 16:01 GMT

    This is class.. absolutely class.. Hats off to you.

  • Evil Ace 66 on October 1, 2010, 15:52 GMT

    Andyy,,,, Thiss Iss Absolutelyy Sickk!!!! <3

  • Stats Guru on October 1, 2010, 15:46 GMT

    I competely agree with these stats and observations. Even though I am British, i feel that this is the time for being honest about our chances which are as slim as Stuart Broad

  • Nic on October 1, 2010, 15:33 GMT

    Brilliant... But I think your losing XI was a little more convincing than the winning XI. Perhaps a reflection of your innate pessimism regarding the Ashes? Interestingly the most recent Numbers Game had 4 Englishmen in the 7 poorest Test averages among batsmen with 2000-plus runs since Jan 2007... Not a good sign.

  • Shehan on October 1, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    Awesome article,couldn't stop laughing!!

  • Anand Shewale on October 1, 2010, 14:10 GMT

    Rubbish !! I can bet on England to change the tide this time round. Bad-Luck Mr. Ziltman

  • paul on October 1, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    the bresnan comment especially is bang, the fact that there wasn't much that could be said to hype him up in the last blog sums him up

  • KillT20 on October 1, 2010, 13:47 GMT

    Top marks for the panesar fielding incident, anderson just quality. and still cant get over the flamethrower remarks. 10.10

  • JMike on October 1, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    "(and I guarantee that is the first time in human history that those four names have appeared in the same sentence).

    ...my wife, Diego Maradona..."

    Is that the first time your wife and Diego Maradona have appeared in the same sentence?

    teehee

    --JMike

  • Peter F on October 1, 2010, 13:07 GMT

    Oh gosh and I've bought tickets to all 25 days.

  • anshuman on October 1, 2010, 13:00 GMT

    good one

  • P Satish on October 1, 2010, 12:58 GMT

    Very very very funny, as usual with "The last time England took a temperamentally suspect giant fast bowler to Australia, the first ball of the series almost killed second slip." the best!!

  • adnan r on October 1, 2010, 12:54 GMT

    great piece andy ..fantastic bit of humour...i guess u r wasting ur talent here ..surely eng gonna loose 5-0..

  • amit on October 1, 2010, 12:33 GMT

    Absolutely fUntastic...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Rajesh on October 1, 2010, 12:17 GMT

    Some of the funniest lines from Andy...

    "Could win the Ashes single-handedly. If they were being played in cloudy conditions in England, with Pakistan’s batsmen playing for Australia"

    "He has spent much of his recent international career on a learning curve. Unfortunately, that curve has been heading downwards."

    "And he fields as if he has read the wrong instruction manual, but refuses to back down."

    "No current reports of anyone in the Australian squad waking up in the middle of the night sweating and screaming, before clambering into their parents’ bed, and asking, “Mummy and Daddy, is it OK if I sleep in your bed again? I’ve had another nightmare about Tim Bresnan.”

    U r the man. LMAO.....

  • Cricfan on October 1, 2010, 12:12 GMT

    Hahaha the comment about Finn having taken the same amount of wickets than "actress Julie Christie" and the bit about how unthreatening Tim Bresnan was really made me laugh.

  • Rajesh on October 1, 2010, 12:08 GMT

    Some of the funniest lines from Andy...

    "Could win the Ashes single-handedly. If they were being played in cloudy conditions in England, with Pakistan’s batsmen playing for Australia"

    "He has spent much of his recent international career on a learning curve. Unfortunately, that curve has been heading downwards."

    "And he fields as if he has read the wrong instruction manual, but refuses to back down."

    "No current reports of anyone in the Australian squad waking up in the middle of the night sweating and screaming, before clambering into their parents’ bed, and asking, “Mummy and Daddy, is it OK if I sleep in your bed again? I’ve had another nightmare about Tim Bresnan.”

    U r the man. LMAO.....

  • Amish on October 1, 2010, 12:03 GMT

    this is a masterpiece...its all in the interpretation of stats...the same england team made to look like aus and bangladesh

  • Josh_Schon81 on October 1, 2010, 11:50 GMT

    Andy!! this is hilarious! especially bell, anderson and poor old 'chubby' bresnan!

  • Nitin Shetty on October 1, 2010, 11:43 GMT

    Awesome humour and yest the Anderson bit was the piece de resistance

  • mark cutting on October 1, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Quite brilliant and just a little worrying, I think we English cricket fans had better be quiet and humble, then wait and see what happens. I'm off to church to pray for a miracle, better still two!

  • Aditya on October 1, 2010, 11:32 GMT

    Excellent article Andy!! Absolutely hilarious. Already read it 3 times and still cant stop laughing... BTW I again request you to make your World XI from the cricinfo list of players with an explanation and post it here.

  • Andrew on October 1, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    Brilliant . But I 'm clearly no Australian, I regularly have nightmares about Tim Bresnan.

  • amir siddique on October 1, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    the people who fudged with their batting averages is pakistani bowling, specially bowling of mohammad amir and asif

  • Akshay on October 1, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    Andy, Sir Andy, that is just so funny... This is just what we should be reading on Friday afternoon...

  • Kishore on October 1, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    side splitting, specially the ones abt anderson and finn

  • abdullah Nawab on October 1, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    Lol i just couldnt stop laughing, especially at the Bresnan and Anderson comment. Just too good. well done

  • adrian on October 1, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    Some mind-boggling and eye-opening keeping statistics there Andy. They could be your finest random stats yet!

  • senehas on October 1, 2010, 7:29 GMT

    Andy u r brilliant...! Ha ha ha....this is goood...!

  • vivek s on October 1, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    This is the most hilllllllllarious piece that i ever read. For Anderson , played in England with Pakistani batsman - best of the lot.

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  • vivek s on October 1, 2010, 6:45 GMT

    This is the most hilllllllllarious piece that i ever read. For Anderson , played in England with Pakistani batsman - best of the lot.

  • senehas on October 1, 2010, 7:29 GMT

    Andy u r brilliant...! Ha ha ha....this is goood...!

  • adrian on October 1, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    Some mind-boggling and eye-opening keeping statistics there Andy. They could be your finest random stats yet!

  • abdullah Nawab on October 1, 2010, 9:16 GMT

    Lol i just couldnt stop laughing, especially at the Bresnan and Anderson comment. Just too good. well done

  • Kishore on October 1, 2010, 9:25 GMT

    side splitting, specially the ones abt anderson and finn

  • Akshay on October 1, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    Andy, Sir Andy, that is just so funny... This is just what we should be reading on Friday afternoon...

  • amir siddique on October 1, 2010, 11:05 GMT

    the people who fudged with their batting averages is pakistani bowling, specially bowling of mohammad amir and asif

  • Andrew on October 1, 2010, 11:23 GMT

    Brilliant . But I 'm clearly no Australian, I regularly have nightmares about Tim Bresnan.

  • Aditya on October 1, 2010, 11:32 GMT

    Excellent article Andy!! Absolutely hilarious. Already read it 3 times and still cant stop laughing... BTW I again request you to make your World XI from the cricinfo list of players with an explanation and post it here.

  • mark cutting on October 1, 2010, 11:33 GMT

    Quite brilliant and just a little worrying, I think we English cricket fans had better be quiet and humble, then wait and see what happens. I'm off to church to pray for a miracle, better still two!