Selection

APRIL 23, 2014

Trusting a man with two first names

Paul Ford: New Zealand's selectors have taken a punt on 27-year-old offspinner Mark Craig, highlighting the anaemic state of spin bowling in the land
Mark Craig: bolter par excellence © Getty Images
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APRIL 01, 2014

England cricket

A reality check for England

The depths to which England cricket has slipped over the winter has been stark. An Ashes mauling and their shocking defeat to the Netherlands in the World T20 has placed calls for stronger personnel and better strategies, both on and off the field. Michael Vaughan, in his column for the Telegraph, says the reality check should be well heeded.

We concentrated solely on winning last summer and not producing a brand of cricket that would sell the game to the public. Cricket is always fighting other sports for attention so we have to win well but we have produced steady teams capable of boring average sides into submission. It has led the players to believe they are better than they are. As supporters we have been given a dose of reality too about the standard of this England team. We have good players but not great players. Now Graeme Swann and Kevin Pietersen have gone we need to fill the dressing room with attitude and character, and not pick players on stats-driven form in county cricket.

Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, dissects England's performance in the World T20 and finds their humbling against an Associate nation was almost on the cards with their slippery fielding and their desperate lack of confidence.

To fail to chase a low total against a modest Netherlands side highlighted not only the lack of skills in the English game in general when confronted with alien conditions, but also a lack of commitment and personal responsibility, the latter something that Giles has been trying to drum into players without obvious success.

In the Daily Mail, Nasser Hussain says that it should not be Ashley Giles getting the blame for England's latest debacle.

That said, the real question for me is not about Giles -- or whoever else gets the job. It is about changing the brand of cricket played by England. When there's pace on the ball, and it's going through to the keeper and nibbling around under lights, they're fine because it's the kind of cricket they play at home.

APRIL 01, 2014

'The mental aspect and the way you train are critical to coaching'

Interview by Subash Jayaraman: Former India coach Greg Chappell talks about the challenges he faced with the side, his relationship with Rahul Dravid, the role of specialist coaches, and developing youngsters
MARCH 23, 2014

Brash youngsters or scapegoats?

Ahmer Naqvi: It's easy to blame some of Pakistan's young batsmen for their brash approach but how about singling out the underperforming senior players instead?
MARCH 20, 2014

India's need for bowling variety

V Ramnarayan: Why their traditional strength, spin, ought not to be forskaen in favour of pace
FEBRUARY 23, 2014

England cricket

Stats or style for a wicketkeeper?

With Matt Prior having been dropped from the England Test side, and Jonny Bairstow's unconvincing form in Australia, the wicketkeeping position is up for grabs at the start of the season. The role very much needs involves producing sizeable runs these days as well as how good they are behind the stumps. In the Observer, Tim Lewis thinks back to a previous era when there was a battle between the keepers

The Taylor-Knott imbroglio was not a standard, frothy, sporting back-and-forth. It was not: should the England football team line up with Ashley Cole or Leighton Baines at left-back? It meant something. Your allegiance was a revealing comment on who you were and what you stood for. It was an aesthetic judgment, perhaps even metaphysical. A vote for Taylor showed you acknowledged the labours of a fine craftsman, that you could appreciate unshowy elegance, that you weren't distracted by razzle-dazzle. A preference for Knott, meanwhile, screamed that you were an ignorant heathen.

FEBRUARY 19, 2014

When the selectors knew something we didn't

Michael Jeh: John Inverarity and Co weathered unfair criticism for picking Shaun Marsh, but now they need to be lauded for their bold decision
FEBRUARY 12, 2014

The comfort Haddin brings

Russell Jackson: A year ago if he had announced his retirement, it would have raised few eyebrows; had he done so after the latest Ashes, it would have been wrenching
JANUARY 29, 2014

Just how bad was England's ODI series loss?

Jon Hotten: England abroad are almost always outgunned. This defeat was more or less inevitable, and that makes it hard to take
JANUARY 09, 2014

The Ashes 2013-14

Give Flower all the power

Andy Flower likes to tap into the knowledge of other sports, and their coaches, as he decides on the best way to go about his job. That job has now become very tough in the wake of the Ashes whitewash and there are suggestions he will walk if he doesn't get his way over Kevin Pietersen. Sir Clive Woodward, who guided England to the 2003 Rugby World Cup, writing in the Daily Mail, provides an view from outside the cricket world about how the ECB need to go about rebuilding.

No matter the sport, the head coach must be the only man who is unequivocally in charge, yet even Flower's job title of 'team director' muddies everything. In our national set-ups both in cricket and rugby, too many key decisions are being made by committee. That in turn leads to popularity contests and allows compromise to come into play. When things go wrong reports are commissioned -- the 2006-07 Ashes whitewash sparked the Schofield report -- but nobody fronts up to take the blame.

JANUARY 08, 2014

Stokes is the future, the rest is dark

Jon Hotten: There has been no shortage of punditry and vitriol directed at Andy Flower and Co in the wake of the Ashes loss. They have their work cut out for them
JANUARY 06, 2014

The Ashes 2013-14

The worst implosion ever?

The UK media are picking through the bones of England's Ashes skeleton, partly trying to work out where it all went wrong and partly assessing where it ranks among sporting thrashings. Paul Hayward, in the Daily Telegraph, argues the 5-0 whitewash has to rank at the top of English humiliations given that they came off the back of winning 3-0 just a few months ago.

This time, after a reasonable first day of the series in Brisbane we saw England assailed by technical, intellectual and emotional chaos, with no one able to stop it. Recent Ashes history makes no sense. The swing from the summer is too great for us properly to comprehend because it takes us beyond mere sporting factors into a vast realm of psychology, team spirit and character. Flintoff has spoken of his depression on the 2006-07 tour. One wonders at the private thoughts of captain Cook and his men now and how they will suffer with the results from these five Tests slung permanently around their necks.

In the Daily Mail, Paul Newman writes that the rebuilding for 2015 - the next Ashes - has to start now and that five players who appeared in this series should never play for England again

The senior players have let England down. Graeme Swann will be the hardest to replace. Jonathan Trott will have to convince England that he is well enough not to leave a tour again if he is to come back but Matt Prior will return, possibly as early as the first Test of next summer. But there will be those who should never play Test cricket again after this -- Monty Panesar, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, Michael Carberry and Jonny Bairstow.

In the Guardian, Vic Marks assess the performances of Boyd Rankin and Michael Carberry on the third (and last) day in Sydney

We have seen plenty of Carberry already on this tour. He has impressed by his swift-footed valour against Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris at the start of the innings. Then, so often he would stagnate. Perhaps he felt he was doing his duty as wickets fell at the other end. Then he would be dismissed, a victim of his own inertia.

In his column for the Daily Telegraph, which was also published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Geoffrey Boycott does not think England will take the tough decisions that are needed.

Over recent years England have employed more backroom staff believing it makes them more professional. In fact, they have over-complicated professionalism. We have coaches for everything. Psychologists, team analysts and an 82 page diet book that made us a laughing stock. It is time they got into the real world and stopped wasting money on frivolous luxuries that do not make any difference when Mitchell Johnson is whistling it around your earhole. The players have stopped thinking for themselves.

DECEMBER 18, 2013

Where now for England?

The post-mortem into England's Ashes drubbing is well underway both within the team and the media. Build for the future? Try and win the next two Tests? Time to drop some senior players? What is Andy Flower's future. All issues up for debate. In the Guardian, Mike Selvey says that while wholesale changes are not the answer now is the time to start planning for the next Ashes in 2015.

Flower will need to make a rapid assessment of which players he believes will be around and in a position to form the nucleus of the squad in 2015. These might include, from the Perth XI Cook, Joe Root, Ian Bell, Stokes, and Stuart Broad, perhaps with the addition of Anderson still, and Bresnan. Michael Carberry probably not. How Kevin Pietersen fits into this is hard to gauge but if his ambition is still there then so should he be.

Andy Bull, in his Spin column, reflects on the similarities with 2006-07 both on the field and in terms of some of the over-reaction

Then, as now, England did not know their best XI when they arrived in Australia but then, given the injuries they had suffered, they had more excuse for the confusion. Now, as then, they made mistakes with their selections, although none so grievous as the decision to leave out Panesar and pick Giles. Picking three tall fast bowlers, Boyd Rankin, Chris Tremlett and Steven Finn, could yet become as infamous a decision, unless in the last two Tests the trio combine for more than the four wickets Tremlett has taken so far. Do that, though, and the question will be why, one game aside, one or the other or the third did not play when the series was still at stake.

Over in the Daily Mail, Martin Samuels says the England set-up need to take a hard look at themselves but also need to take leaf out of Australia's book and not pension off too many players just yet

Meanwhile, across the corridor, the inquest began. Whither Alastair Cook and Andy Flower, Kevin Pietersen and Matt Prior, James Anderson and Graeme Swann. It was the end of an era of English domination in this finest of sporting contests, and some will argue the end of England, too. Certainly, this England. Yet what if Australia had thought the same way? What if men like Siddle, Haddin and Watson had been discarded in disgust, too, at some point in their sorry trot. It is not as if the margins of defeat were tiny in what English cricket may come to regard as the good old days: 197 runs to lose the 2009 series, an innings and 71, an innings and 157, an innings and 83 on the 2010-11 tour, 347 runs at Lord's last summer. Australia, your boys took one hell of a beating.

Plenty of people are having their say on England's position, including the Daily Telegraph's political correspondent Peter Oborne who says Alastair Cook must go.

Alastair Cook should step down as skipper. It's clear after England's dreadful and humiliating performance that he is not suited for the captaincy. Anybody listening to his media interviews over the last few weeks can tell that he lacks leadership qualities. More importantly, Cook has lost form dreadfully since becoming captain, and this matters. Cook is probably England's best batsman since Peter May 60 years ago. If he had not been captain it is almost certain that Cook would have put it the big scores that would have saved us from defeat. The England team desperately needs Cook's batting.

NOVEMBER 10, 2013

Indian cricket

India's next generation primed and ready

India's young batsmen have worked for their places in the Test line-up, continue to keep their focus, and have done well enough to breed confidence going into the tough overseas tours that the team has lined up, says Aditya Iyer in the Indian Express.

Name for name and slot by slot, the greats have all but been replaced. Yes, most of these replacements have only played at home and yes, the following three Test series (all abroad, in South Africa, New Zealand and England) will be a tougher ball game. But Pujara, Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Virat Kohli and now Rohit Sharma have shown enough mettle to clear the forthcoming hurdles. If this theory seems either premature or far-fetched, then kindly peep into the scorecards from India's longest-ever win streak -- the last five Test matches. Never before had India won five Tests in a row. And when it was done (over the four-Test series against Australia earlier this year and the Kolkata win over the West Indies), it was largely achieved without the aid of the remaining veterans, Tendulkar and MS Dhoni.

NOVEMBER 02, 2013

Is George Bailey a Test No. 6?

Matt Cleary: He has had a fine run in India, but swatting full tosses out of Nagpur is no indication of a batsman's ability to see off James Anderson's outswingers in Brisbane
OCTOBER 19, 2013

The sweet taste of M&M's success

Kamran Abbasi: Khurram Manzoor and Shan Masood, Pakistan's new opening combination, were the ones who put their team on the path to the big win in Abu Dhabi
OCTOBER 17, 2013

How soon can India find a new No. 4?

Dave Hawksworth: It is important for the game that India remain competitive at Test cricket. Their ability to find a replacement for Tendulkar will go a long way to determine if they succeed
OCTOBER 02, 2013

Pakistan cricket

It's never just cricket in Pakistan

Cricket in Pakistan has a history of being tinted by ethnic and religious factors. Nadeem Paracha, in Dawn, presents a chronicle of curious selections, protests and regional rivalries, notably when a 24-year-old was appointed Pakistan captain.

Shortly before the series, Miandad was quoted by the press as saying that the senior players in the team were not co-operating with him. Majid Khan took offense and invited nine players to his home in Lahore and told them that he was going to refuse playing under Miandad. He said that Zaheer [Abbas] had agreed to do the same. The board decided to side with Miandad and he led a brand new team against the Lankans in the first Test of the series at Karachi's National Stadium.

SEPTEMBER 24, 2013

Injuries could decide the Ashes

Michael Jeh: Both sides are similarly matched in batting and bowling, so it may come down to who can stand up on the field longer
SEPTEMBER 10, 2013

England's enviable perfect balance

Alan Tyers: How did the Ashes holders get their side just right?
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