NOVEMBER 14, 2014

Touring

The perfect tourists

ESPNcricinfo staff

Cricketers spend a huge amount of time away from home and England are just about to embark on their overseas trips as they head to Sri Lanka for the one-day series, which is followed by a long stay in Australia and New Zealand for the world and then a West Indies tour. That's many nights in the same dressing room and same hotels as each other. In the Daily Telegraph, the former England captain Michael Vaughan picks his ideal touring team - and the criteria are far from based on just runs and wickets

Mark Butcher: You need a musician on tour who can sit at the back of the bus and sing a song when you have been hammered in a day's play. It just releases the pressure on everyone. As a player Butch liked a fag and a drink. He loved a night out and I always thought he was in the wrong profession because cricket seemed to get in the way of his rock and roll lifestyle.

OCTOBER 22, 2014

The thing about Australia's superiority to Pakistan

Ahmer Naqvi: The numbers are all in Australia's favour but the fact that they haven't played in Pakistan for 16 years weighs against them
JULY 08, 2014

Indian cricket

The Praveen Kumar guide to bowling in England

There weren't too many Indians who could remember the 2011 tour to England fondly, but Praveen Kumar, who was thrust with the mantle of leading the bowling, responded by becoming the team's top wicket-taker. Speaking to Saneep Dwivedi, of the Indian Express, he explains how English conditions might not necessarily remain batting-friendly, even if they start out so, and the importance of having specific plans, like the one that almost worked on Kevin Pietersen.

"So I started with a series of balls that moved away from the off stump and this was followed by an in-coming effort ball on the legs. And all through the plan Dhoni had placed Rahulbhai (Rahul Dravid) as the leg-slip. Pietersen fell for the plan. After being starved of his favourite shot, he flicked the faster in-coming ball," he says before revealing the anti-climax end. "The ball fell just short of Rahulbhai. Had it travelled a bit more we could have got a big wicket." Pietersen, on 49 at that point, went on to score a double hundred.

JUNE 19, 2014

Life outside the cricket stadium

Samir Chopra: Most fans are familiar with far-flung corners of the globe but often we don't know much about those places apart from the fact that they are cricketing venues
JUNE 13, 2014

Teams cannot risk tours to Pakistan

Kamran Abbasi: The board must instead concentrate on developing offshore bases, strengthening domestic cricket, and getting other countries to host their A team
MARCH 19, 2014

Lahore, five years on

Janaka Malwatta: The loss of international cricket in Pakistan since the terror attack on the Sri Lankan team bus has been cruel on the country's fans and the rest of the cricket world
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 14, 2014

A golden age of cricketing travel sickness

Andy Zaltzman: In which we explore the magical world of whitewashes and why teams seem to be so rubbish at touring these days
JANUARY 10, 2014

England's tour from hell?

Dave Hawksworth: One has to go back to 1985-86, when they suffered a 5-0 hammering by West Indies, to think of a worse tour
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 19, 2013

Tours from hell

Nicholas Hogg: Think it's gone all pear-shaped for England in Australia? Other teams have had it worse when playing away from home
OCTOBER 20, 2013

Waiting for the boys

Saad Shafqat: You're never too grown up to be an autograph-hunting, hotel foyer-pacing fan
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
SEPTEMBER 03, 2013

The experience of arriving in Zimbabwe again

Firdose Moonda: One of the excitements of touring Zimbabwe occurs long before one arrives in the country. Getting there is an experience on its own
JULY 22, 2013

The Investec Ashes 2013

Australia on the verge of history

Australia are once again teetering on the edge of several records, only after a thorough debacle at Lord's, nearly all of them are unsavoury. Already 0-2 down and with Old Trafford and The Oval well-known for assisting spin, Malcolm Conn in Australia's Telegraph brings to light a few foreboding statistics.

After a 4-0 defeat in India, Australia has now lost six Tests in a row for the first time since 1984. The worst losing streak is seven almost 130 years ago.

Australia has only ever been whitewashed once in England, and that was during a three-Test series back in 1886. The other large series defeats in England were 3-0 in 1977, 3-1 in 1981 and 3-1 in 1985 on tours unsettled by World Series Cricket and South African rebel tours. During all three of those series Australia did not start as badly as the current team.

Chloe Saltau of the Age paints a vivid picture of turmoil in Australian cricket, from the Argus report, the team's lacklustre performance in the Ashes and a dearth of available talent at the domestic level.

The Argus report now looks like an expensive navel-gazing exercise. Several of its key recommendations are in mothballs. The coach brought in to restore a winning culture has been sacked. The captain, Michael Clarke, is no longer a selector - a flawed concept to begin with. Australia, far from climbing back towards No. 1, is facing its sixth consecutive Test defeat - a streak not seen since the team was pummelled by the West Indies when they were kings in 1984.

In the same paper, Malcolm Knox writes that it's a concern for cricket in general if the rest of the series turns into a no-contest.

But Ashes cricket has thrived on 130 years of titanic tussles, and even when one side has been markedly stronger than the other the combat has been closer to Sharktopus than Sharknado. A week ago, these same teams played one of the tightest Test matches in history, a thriller. Those who came to Lord's basing their hopes on history will always say that sequels are never as good.

In the Independent, John Townsend writes that Australia have good reasons to feel optimistic about their spin situation, going by the initial performances of Ashton Agar and Fawad Ahmed in the tour games. Having fast-tracked Ahmed's eligibility, the time is ripe for his inclusion.

Indeed, Ahmed may be Australia's best prospect of getting back into the Ashes. He had a bowl-off with Agar at Bristol last month after the Australian selectors decided that off-spinner Nathan Lyon was not going to provide the impact required on pitches likely to be as arid as any in world cricket. Agar won the battle of Bristol but it may be that Ahmed wins the war.

In the Guardian, Vic Marks says Joe Root's performance with the ball at Lord's was encouraging enough for Cook to use him as a regular spin option. That is provided Root perseveres with his offspin.

The mechanics of spin bowling are not that difficult, compared with the demands of fast bowling. There is no need for special muscles or extreme flexibility. An ordinary Joe can make himself into a very passable bowler provided he has the right temperament. This is where we can be optimistic about Root. All the signs are that he is willing to learn, practise and use some of his undoubted powers of concentration for the most fundamental skill required by a bowler with a decent basic action: to land the damn thing on a length time and time again.

In the same paper, Barney Ronay wonders if the Ashes has lost a bit of its specialty this time, considering it has been spread over 10 Tests and contested between two mismatched teams.

Just how special is it out there? This is the question the TV interviewers seem intent on asking every Ashes interviewee, every star of the day, in fact pretty much anybody they can muscle in behind a mic. And of course it is only natural, the ramping-up of the history angle, that muscular breadth of scale, the tearfully invoked sense of Ashes tradition, if only because at the centre of all this there is already a notable absence of competitive tension, not to mention at times some pretty ordinary cricket being played.

Two Tests into the back-to-back series it is starting to look like what it is: a decent team and a poor team playing each other 10 times in a row for no clear reason beyond their own grand and illustrious shared history.

APRIL 22, 2013

Stuart Carlisle's other sporting passion

Firdose Moonda: Stuart Carlisle, the former Zimbabwe batsman, on why he has established a sports shop in Harare
APRIL 20, 2013

Three shirts, eight sweat bands, and 4000 Twitter followers

Chris Morris: It's hot, it's noisy, and there's plenty of travel involved, but Chris Morris is having the coolest time ever at the IPL
APRIL 10, 2013

Settling in with Chennai's Super Kings

Chris Morris: Chris Morris gets his first taste of flying business-class, what it means to be a high-profile cricketer in India, and the IPL
MARCH 14, 2013

Australia news

The debate over discipline versus winning at all costs

In The Hindu, Greg Chappell states that the recent events within the Australian team reflect a bold attitude and the decision may have helped stem a decline in team attitudes.

One can argue that things should have been done differently, in days gone by it would have been handled man to man over a beer, but the world has changed so one has to assume that previous warnings or exhortations went unheeded. In that case the only recourse was to use selection as the blunt instrument to get the message across.

Thirty-two years ago, an Australian captain asked his brother to bowl an underam delivery to stop New Zealand from scoring a six off the last ball. In Mid Day, Clayton Murzello recollects the win-at-all-costs attitude of previous Australian teams and says the current side places more emphasis on discipline.

The discipline aspect is vital too, but Australia have not given themselves the best chance to win. Michael Clarke ought to realise that the last time Australia won a Test in India was when his career was just three Test matches old. He will play his 92nd today in Mohali.

MARCH 12, 2013

England news

Shut out the Ashes talk

In the Guardian, Mike Selvey analyses England's problems at the start of an overseas series and suggests they filter out any Ashes-related talk ahead of the second Test against New Zealand.

One also senses that the tour is still widely seen only as an hors d'oeuvre for the main Ashes course to come.
Away from the team the talk surrounding it is incessant, be it ticket sales or what Australia's performance in India means for those series, or who has the greater depth of pace bowling, and much of it must filter down to all involved with the England team. It is unavoidable and they would not be human if they did not cast an eye to the excitement ahead. But to succeed as a player you have to live in the moment.

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