July 27, 2009

Let's get Fred

It's time Australia's think tank latched on to Flintoff's weakness against right-handers
28

Six feet, four inches of Lancastrian beef, steel and oomph ought to be the main bother filling the minds of Australia's cricket team and their too-many-to-count hangers-on. And one question. If Freddie Flintoff can be overcome, will the Ashes sail home to Oz? And if the answer seems clear, and if the answer is yes, then that's where the really hard deliberations need to begin.

For any get-Fred strategy to work, the first thing to realise is that here is a bowler who eats left-handers for breakfast and Australia have four of them in their top six. Flintoff has lorded over Ashes matchplay since 2005 in a way that makes Jesus-like posturing at wicket-fall almost seem apt. Forty-two wickets in those 12 Tests tell some of the story. But here's another story you mightn't know: of the 42, only 18 were right-handers. Of the 18, a measly six have been specialist batsmen.

Twenty times he's had a crack at Ricky Ponting. Only three times out of 20 has Flintoff uprooted his man. To do so he's had to summon every last drop of oomph. A couple of in-duckers, two trampolining straight balls and one leave-it-and-weep outswinger - "among the best sequence of deliveries I ever received" - cleaned up Ponting at Edgbaston in 2005. He copped a snorter from nowhere that same summer at The Oval. A year later in Melbourne, where Flintoff gave him barely enough room to swing a bat, Ponting lunged at the first loose one and top-edged. And that's it.

Another right-hander, Michael Clarke, has never got out to Flintoff, not in 19 innings. Nudging Clarke up from No. 5 to 4 in the batting order is the closest thing to a no-brainer the Australians will get in these coming weeks. That way, should Flintoff dislodge both openers, both lefties, he would be stuck bowling at the two Australians least likely to bow down and curtsey to him, Ponting and Clarke. Should that pair see off his first spell, they would fancy their chances of surviving till his second.

Two right-handers at the crease is one of those unavoidable little ordeals in life that Flintoff does not particularly look forward to. But to find himself bowling at two right-handers all through the afternoon in his second and then his third spell - well, that's like having your dentist buy the house next door.

It doesn't happen often, but it happened the other day at Lord's, and Clarke and Brad Haddin put on 185. All bar one of Flintoff's wickets in this series have landed in his opening spell of a day's play. That afternoon at Lord's he had to put in a seven-over second spell between lunch and tea. There were bumpers, yorkers, reverse-swingers, snarls. He came thudding in downhill, with the breeze, over the wicket, loving the Lord's slope. His pace started off sizzling and stayed sizzling right through.

Something was missing.

The awkward round-the-wicket angle; that claustrophobic feeling of dread - they weren't there. Balls were jagging in and out but mostly in, which always suits a batsman better. Once or twice an over he'd stray too full or short. And the roar of the crowd, which Flintoff both feeds and feeds off; it sounded more like a snoozy, zonked-out, after-lunch murmur.

A left-hander was what was missing.

Shortly before stumps Flintoff returned for a third spell of three overs. The lights were on, the sun coming and going behind a cloud, the ball shiny and new. It was a champion fast bowler's dream. Of Flintoff's 18 deliveries, only five touched 90 mph. He beat the bat once. Twice he tried bowling bouncers - nippy ones, to be fair - but the strain of it made him plop the ball down so short that Clarke was already ducking before Flintoff looked up.

This is not to say Flintoff had come to resemble some sort of docile shop-floor dummy. Not for a minute. Out of all England's attack he remained by miles the most dangerous. In a way, though, this merely highlighted the lack of danger, the faint air of insipidness, conveyed by his four bowling partners.

So promoting Clarke up the order will help Australia. That still leaves the headache of four left-handers in the top six. Four is probably one and perhaps two too many. Abandoning Phillip Hughes is no solution. Three weeks ago people were not calling him poor young Hughes but amazing young Hughes, the best thing since Victor Trumper. Evel Knievel, were he a Test selector, wouldn't dare give up on Hughes this soon.

But Shane Watson could sensibly come in for Marcus North. Watson - his achy-breaky back and thigh permitting - might even offer Australia a little bowling insurance.

That leaves three left-handers in the top six. Which brings us to Mike Hussey. "He's so far out of form it's ridiculous," pronounced Geoff Lawson on series eve. And indeed, when Flintoff is on song and around the wicket, Hussey tends to make batting look like some particularly perplexing branch of nuclear physics.

Statistics invariably come down on Mr Cricket's side. Here's one stat that makes a reasonable case for the guillotine. Since moving down the order, Hussey has come to the crease 36 times with 65 or more runs on the scoreboard and averages 69.06; when trouble strikes (23 times) and Australia are two or three wickets down for under 65, he averages 31. Are the selectors rock-certain that this is the chap to bail a team out of this tightest of tight squeezes?

Out of all England's attack Flintoff remained by miles the most dangerous. In a way, though, this merely highlighted the lack of danger, the faint air of insipidness, conveyed by his four bowling partners

Brad Hodge, a right-hander, did not make the original squad. Nor did any other specialist back-up batsman, right-handed or otherwise. To swap Hussey for a ring-in might smack of panic. To dump two batsmen mid-series could be considered risky. But then, to do nothing is risky.

Some might say Australia did nothing or nearly nothing to counter Flintoff back in 2005. "A computer isn't much use," was Shane Warne's sage observation in My Illustrated Career, "when Freddie Flintoff is reverse-swinging the ball into your feet at 90 miles per hour."

Flintoff's fetishes were apparent even then. In the famous Old Trafford draw he went kapow against Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich and Adam Gilchrist - left-handers all - but was thwarted by Ponting. Prising out just one of Brett Lee or Glenn McGrath at the death proved beyond Flintoff. But did anyone in the Australian camp take notice?

John Buchanan, the coach, has since confessed that he sought "to pull back from the players so I could spend more time being strategic… finding tasks and experiences to expand [their] horizons". The first three lines of a pre-tour booklet Buchanan handed out to his men at the University of Queensland gym made no mention of Flintoff. They didn't even mention the Ashes:

We will cross off each series as we march towards WC 2007.
Our aim is to not only win each series but also to know that, individually and as a team, we are improving our total performance.
The vision is to arrive at WC 2007 the best skilled team the world has seen - technically, physically, mentally, tactically and "team".

The rest is fairly ugly history. Now when Freddie dismisses Nathan Hauritz or Peter Siddle he sinks down on one knee and bows his head and hoists his arms aloft and makes like he's Jesus. And no one quibbles, not even the Australian players.

A touch less deference might actually help Australia beat Flintoff. It might be time to wonder what Steve Waugh, or a Chappell brother, or any grizzly Australian cricketer of old would say. They'd say something like:

"What? Knock a tailender over, didja? Plonker!"

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket, published in March 2009

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • SidArthur on July 30, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    Mmmm, only 18 of 42 were right handers. That means 24 were left handers. Let's see now, 18 versus 24 - I don't even need statistics to tell me that that is NOT SIGNFICANTLY different from a 1:1 ratio!!!!!!!!!

  • SidArthur on July 30, 2009, 12:49 GMT

    Yes no doubt, Freddie is a plonker with all the Jesus-like stuff, even if he was just crying to the heavens saying "verily verily thank you Lord Jesus for allowing me to bowl a good ball with my dicky knee". As for Freddie lording it over the Ashes since 2005, what happened in Australia last time around? There is an old saying in cricket "you are only as good as your last innings". England were the recipients of scorn after the first test when they got walloped, and now its the Aussies on the receiving end - a quick turn around in opinion after all the records broken by the Aussie batting in the first test. England's batting is ordinary. Strauss was positively chuffed at Lords after finally making a good score in an Ashes test. Pietersen is always a loser in Ashes tests, no great loss. Freddie the plonker boozer fun bloke is their only great player. The Aussies have many great players. They just have to win the toss, only this time I hope Ricky doesn't choose to bowl.

  • 1sandebr on July 30, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    the australian team should be katich, hughes, ponting, clarke, north, watson, johnson/hauritz, clark, siddle hilfenhaus. that is for the rest of this series, then they need to pick a reddy replacement for hussey, someone to bat at 5. if north bats well than they keep him no wonder the selectors are just that and dont have a real job, theyre not smart enoguh... what the hell are they doing not dropping hussey

  • Sanjiyan on July 29, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    Most of you are missing the point here. Its got nothing to do with Freddies average against lefties, or the fact that 43% of his last 42 wickets are lefties. Its based on the FACTS of the last few matches and in that light the comparison is valid. Also taking Fred on and making sure his impact on the game is as limited as possible will ripple though the entire english outfit making them nervous and edgy which in turn will help the aussies bowl them out. Its all about the mindgames and no matter how you want to look at it, blunting Fred's impact on the game is much..much more advantageous than combatting the rest of the english attack.

  • Achiles on July 28, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    I can't believe Cricinfo allows such articles to be posted!

    Freddie has 154 Wickets @ 25 bowling at right handers.

    Loading a team with right handers to counter freddie....what a joke!

    I hope people with higher Cricket IQ post articles.

  • Nampally on July 28, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Since Flintoff is the main England pace bowler who can swing the game around, are you suggesting that the Aussies go with all right handed batsmen? The Australian team is well balanced side and have been unlucky not win the first test to see the series tied at 1-1. Katisch got a century as did Clarke in both the tests.If only the Australian bowling was less erratic the series would have gone the Australian way. With Clark replacing Johnson or Siddle,MacDonald opening instead of Hughes and Watson replacing North, Australia could still prove this point in the next 3 tests. England appear to rely heavily on Flintoff and Swann in bowling and on their openers to compile good total. England's middle order batting is prone to failures especially in absence of KP. The next 3 test without KP in the side are likely to be difficult ones for England to win. I feel that the Ashes are still open for either team to grab. If Australian bowling improves, they look the better team.

  • kingkarthik on July 28, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    Dear Christian, before the next time you go mouthing off about a player, ensure you have got you facts right. There is something call "Statsguru" which you should learn to use. Here is a fact below.

    right-hand batsman 1998-2009 154(Wickets) 25.50 (Average) left-hand batsman 2000-2009 71(Wickets) 34.12 (Average)

    Load Australia with right handers. More the merrier. Please publish this without glossing over it.

  • Woody111 on July 28, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    Right on Chris Howard! I'd let Johnson and Hughes go and give Clark a chance - my god he deserves it. I couldn't wait for Hughes to find his place - he'll be back but I'd put Watson in: he's batting and bowling well and if he's one of few replacements how can you leave him out? Put simply I don't see how you can have your opening batsman and bowler 'finding form' in a test match - in this case the third of five. Too much of a risk. There's nothing to lose by putting Hussey up the top and giving Hilf and Siddle the new ball. Selectors do seem to work around a problem rather than tackling it head-on: as you point out Mr Howard. We'll probably see Siddle and Haddin dropped!

  • sifter132 on July 28, 2009, 2:28 GMT

    This sort of stuff is prevalent in baseball where individual matchups and stats vs left arm or right arm pitchers, or left hand/right hand batters are studied in depth. I think it's a weakness in our current cricket stats that 'matchup' stats aren't used very often. After all the whole batsman vs bowler matchup is the whole battle in cricket and it would make sense to know how well Flintoff bowls against all his opponents individually. But it is usually simplified into: he averages XX vs Australia and XX vs India etc. That is almost useless unless we know WHO was in those teams and who he got out easily and who played him well. That is far more valuable info.

    And yes I agree, another right hander or 2 would help. Not only against Flintoff, but against Graeme Swann too who relished bowling into that rough outside the lefties off stump. Stuart Broad also seemed more threatening to the lefties. Anderson seems the only BIG threat to the righties.

  • Chris_Howard on July 27, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    LOL. I edited out a key sentence in my previous post! I meant to say "Also, nothing wrong with dropping Hughes. A bloke called Bradman got dropped after his first Test and when he returned, he scored centuries in both innings. And he didn't do too badly after that." Hope that makes more sense now.

  • SidArthur on July 30, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    Mmmm, only 18 of 42 were right handers. That means 24 were left handers. Let's see now, 18 versus 24 - I don't even need statistics to tell me that that is NOT SIGNFICANTLY different from a 1:1 ratio!!!!!!!!!

  • SidArthur on July 30, 2009, 12:49 GMT

    Yes no doubt, Freddie is a plonker with all the Jesus-like stuff, even if he was just crying to the heavens saying "verily verily thank you Lord Jesus for allowing me to bowl a good ball with my dicky knee". As for Freddie lording it over the Ashes since 2005, what happened in Australia last time around? There is an old saying in cricket "you are only as good as your last innings". England were the recipients of scorn after the first test when they got walloped, and now its the Aussies on the receiving end - a quick turn around in opinion after all the records broken by the Aussie batting in the first test. England's batting is ordinary. Strauss was positively chuffed at Lords after finally making a good score in an Ashes test. Pietersen is always a loser in Ashes tests, no great loss. Freddie the plonker boozer fun bloke is their only great player. The Aussies have many great players. They just have to win the toss, only this time I hope Ricky doesn't choose to bowl.

  • 1sandebr on July 30, 2009, 4:01 GMT

    the australian team should be katich, hughes, ponting, clarke, north, watson, johnson/hauritz, clark, siddle hilfenhaus. that is for the rest of this series, then they need to pick a reddy replacement for hussey, someone to bat at 5. if north bats well than they keep him no wonder the selectors are just that and dont have a real job, theyre not smart enoguh... what the hell are they doing not dropping hussey

  • Sanjiyan on July 29, 2009, 11:38 GMT

    Most of you are missing the point here. Its got nothing to do with Freddies average against lefties, or the fact that 43% of his last 42 wickets are lefties. Its based on the FACTS of the last few matches and in that light the comparison is valid. Also taking Fred on and making sure his impact on the game is as limited as possible will ripple though the entire english outfit making them nervous and edgy which in turn will help the aussies bowl them out. Its all about the mindgames and no matter how you want to look at it, blunting Fred's impact on the game is much..much more advantageous than combatting the rest of the english attack.

  • Achiles on July 28, 2009, 14:16 GMT

    I can't believe Cricinfo allows such articles to be posted!

    Freddie has 154 Wickets @ 25 bowling at right handers.

    Loading a team with right handers to counter freddie....what a joke!

    I hope people with higher Cricket IQ post articles.

  • Nampally on July 28, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Since Flintoff is the main England pace bowler who can swing the game around, are you suggesting that the Aussies go with all right handed batsmen? The Australian team is well balanced side and have been unlucky not win the first test to see the series tied at 1-1. Katisch got a century as did Clarke in both the tests.If only the Australian bowling was less erratic the series would have gone the Australian way. With Clark replacing Johnson or Siddle,MacDonald opening instead of Hughes and Watson replacing North, Australia could still prove this point in the next 3 tests. England appear to rely heavily on Flintoff and Swann in bowling and on their openers to compile good total. England's middle order batting is prone to failures especially in absence of KP. The next 3 test without KP in the side are likely to be difficult ones for England to win. I feel that the Ashes are still open for either team to grab. If Australian bowling improves, they look the better team.

  • kingkarthik on July 28, 2009, 10:19 GMT

    Dear Christian, before the next time you go mouthing off about a player, ensure you have got you facts right. There is something call "Statsguru" which you should learn to use. Here is a fact below.

    right-hand batsman 1998-2009 154(Wickets) 25.50 (Average) left-hand batsman 2000-2009 71(Wickets) 34.12 (Average)

    Load Australia with right handers. More the merrier. Please publish this without glossing over it.

  • Woody111 on July 28, 2009, 4:00 GMT

    Right on Chris Howard! I'd let Johnson and Hughes go and give Clark a chance - my god he deserves it. I couldn't wait for Hughes to find his place - he'll be back but I'd put Watson in: he's batting and bowling well and if he's one of few replacements how can you leave him out? Put simply I don't see how you can have your opening batsman and bowler 'finding form' in a test match - in this case the third of five. Too much of a risk. There's nothing to lose by putting Hussey up the top and giving Hilf and Siddle the new ball. Selectors do seem to work around a problem rather than tackling it head-on: as you point out Mr Howard. We'll probably see Siddle and Haddin dropped!

  • sifter132 on July 28, 2009, 2:28 GMT

    This sort of stuff is prevalent in baseball where individual matchups and stats vs left arm or right arm pitchers, or left hand/right hand batters are studied in depth. I think it's a weakness in our current cricket stats that 'matchup' stats aren't used very often. After all the whole batsman vs bowler matchup is the whole battle in cricket and it would make sense to know how well Flintoff bowls against all his opponents individually. But it is usually simplified into: he averages XX vs Australia and XX vs India etc. That is almost useless unless we know WHO was in those teams and who he got out easily and who played him well. That is far more valuable info.

    And yes I agree, another right hander or 2 would help. Not only against Flintoff, but against Graeme Swann too who relished bowling into that rough outside the lefties off stump. Stuart Broad also seemed more threatening to the lefties. Anderson seems the only BIG threat to the righties.

  • Chris_Howard on July 27, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    LOL. I edited out a key sentence in my previous post! I meant to say "Also, nothing wrong with dropping Hughes. A bloke called Bradman got dropped after his first Test and when he returned, he scored centuries in both innings. And he didn't do too badly after that." Hope that makes more sense now.

  • phoenixsteve on July 27, 2009, 18:46 GMT

    Somebody famous once remarked that there are "lies, damned lies and statistics".... I think this is the case here. At Lords England had the rub of the green and bowled beautifully too. Australians are renowned for being 'bad losers' and this maybe to their credit and gives a very classy side that extra edge. The series is not yet over and an Australian victory is a distinct possibility. All us English fans should remember that the Aussies have rased the bar in World Cricket and the rest of the World has been playing 'catch up' for 15 years now! Have we caught up? I hope so, but let us not get smug and underestimate the task ahead. The England batting has yet to really deliver but our talented bowling attack has had the upper hand. If only the batters can perform then I for one would be much more confident about the right result! Come on England!

  • mk49_van on July 27, 2009, 17:22 GMT

    Oakey109, got it right. If Aussies have more top order lefties (which they do now and did in 2005) even if left-right ratio was 4/7 for top order (now and in 2005) then 18 out 42 (43%) is almost exactly the base rate! Flintoff may not have a right-hander problem, Chris Ryan has a math/stats/logic problem.

    May be Chris could get some lessons from the terrific stats crowd at cricinfo (Rajesh, Trevor and Ananth et al)?

  • alexrdavies on July 27, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    Christian, thanks for your analysis - it's an angle I've not heard before, and you've certainly backed it up well. I'm not sure I agree with Australia dropping two batsmen simultaneously, but you make a good argument for promoting Clarke and perhaps dropping one of them.

    Inevitably, as an Englishman, I do have a gripe - it's the caption you chose for the picture. As one of the first things people see when the reach the article, it sets the tone for your readers. In contrast to your article, it comes across as ill-informed and missing the point, not to mention disrespectful.

    The thing is, cricket is all about context and history. Without them, all we're doing is hitting balls with sticks. A tailender's wicket? Little consequence. But a five-for at Lords in your final test series, to become one of a handful of men to land on both honours boards? That's worth a little arm-waving.

  • IzzySez on July 27, 2009, 16:31 GMT

    That is flawed logic; like oakley109 mentioned that 18/42 is nearly 43%, which is the percentage of lefty batters you'll find in average amongst any major teams. Unlike yesteryears, theres a lot more left handers playing the game. And his average is infact worse against leftys. And I didn't really get the point of the last 15 lines. I don't think overcoming Fred is the key to success for Aussies. I thought Jimmy deserved a couple more wickets for his efforts, and lets not forget Swann. England is simply bowling good but not 'outstanding'. The Aussies are just buckling under the pressure of the occasion. I think its time to be honest and drop Johnson (given 200 runs @ 5.21 rpo, taken 3 wickets- nothing short of attrocious) and bring in Stuart Clark, who done great against Northamptonshire (and Johnson flopped). Fact is, the only reason Aussies lost Lord's because their bowlers didn't can up England after their batting imploded. Infact they did the opposite.

  • Pageio on July 27, 2009, 16:00 GMT

    I think Mr Ryan is clutching at straws somewhat with this whole analysis. As a slight side issue I'm not sure if he saw much of the Lord's Test, but it was clear to me that Jimmy Anderson bowled very well in the 2nd innings without much luck, and indeed took 4 wickets in the first that helped England on their way. Coupled with Swann taking 4 in the 2nd innings too....I'm not sure it is correct to imply that Flintoff is the only threatening bowler England has.

  • valvolux on July 27, 2009, 15:34 GMT

    What??? A cricinfo article not slagging off Australia - how dare they show this obvious bias towards Australia. We just beat them in ONE test match - it is not fair that you point out that we are in fact beatable. It is CRITICAL that we focus in on sticking the boot into Australia, and the only way we can do this is getting rid of ALL Australian journalists. We must send as many English journalists to Australia, get them to reprint the same Aussie slagging articles we print in our papers, then write an article claiming that the entire Australian public thinks Australia is no hope in this ashes and refer to these articles as proof (read Roebuck) and make sure we let Ponting know that he's lost the support of ALL Australians. Surely if we can forget so quickly how BAD we were in Cardiff (well since 2005 really), our journalistic skills will surely make Australia forget how good they were.

  • butterhandsfingers on July 27, 2009, 15:06 GMT

    Christian, you've written some crap but this is one of the stupidest articles I've ever read on cricinfo. 'Of the 42, only 18 were right handers' (as Oakley109 points out 43%) means nothing, and to suggest that Australia pick their team exclusively to counteract the threat of Flintoff's bowling is ridiculous. The England camp will be licking their lips if the Australian team perceived England's bowling threat as beginning and ending with Fred as you seem to. Drivel

  • Chris_Howard on July 27, 2009, 14:02 GMT

    Interesting analysis. Would be interesting to know if he's actually bowled at more lefties though. Also, nothing wrong with dropping Hughes. When he returned, he scored centuries in both innings. And he didn't do too badly after that. I'd rather keep North, I think he's done much more to justify his spot (as a batsman). Drop Hughes and Johnson. Bring in Clark and Watson (then you're not dependent on North for his bowling) and open with M Clarke or M Hussey. If your theory about Freddie and right-handers is good, then Clarke at the top could be useful. It'd be good for Clarke too, coz he'd have a full two hours to bat before getting out (just before an interval as he commonly does). If Australia want to win this series, they really do have to get serious and make the hard decisons on Johnson and Hughes (both lefties). Unfortunately, I think they will simply bring in Clarke for Hauritz and Watson for North, rather than get rid of the two problem guys.

  • ToneMalone on July 27, 2009, 13:06 GMT

    Interesting idea, but I don't think there's enough here to make a statistical argument out of it. Let's look at it from a simpler angle: out of the Australian batsmen, which ones have been scratching around like farmyard chooks, even in the tour matches against the counties? Now that would be ... Hughes, Hussey and North. So Katich aside, which sane bowler *wouldn't* prefer to be bowling to an Australian southpaw at the moment!

    If one or more of these batsmen are to be dropped, do it because they're out of form - not to stack the order with right handers. The Australian selectors have already sent out a squad that makes it extremely difficult to maintain a balanced starting XI - too many all-rounders, and no back-up specialist opener. To rearrange the batting around one English bowler is akin to treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

  • kirannarendran on July 27, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    Hi Jameslloyd, I appreciate your time for scrutinizing my comments, how ever I would like to make it very clear that I am not against Mr. Ryan's comments. "Memo to England's hero: an extravagant pose is not warranted for a tailender's wicket"- This is caption of the picture placed in the article and what does it imply? Have you seen the gestures and chants by Australians, when they take wickets? The reality is that when Australians do this, it's a part of their 'playing cricket hard' pedigree and when others does this then it is 'Against the spirit of game'. I am not saying that Flintoff is a gentleman cricketer and also not against the tips provided by Mr.Ryan.I am deeply impressed with his gestures for providing tips to the Australian team for combating Freddie and I hope Punter will incorporate these, when he forge strategies for Edgbaston.

  • JulesUK on July 27, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    The Aussies are worried! England are a two man team they tell us, and one of them is injured. That must be a huge gee-up for the other ten guys that will take the field on Sunday. "They think we're all rubbish, lads, let's show them we're not" will be all Strauus will have to say.

    England's attack has three of the top five test wicket takers in 2009 in it. Hint to Ricky - none of them are Andrew Flintoff.

  • oakey109 on July 27, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    Only 18 wickets of the 42 to fall are right handers? That is nearly 43%. How far away has he got to be from 50% for it to be considered a weakness? This stat alone serves to illustrate that Fred can bowl out batsmen irrespective of their preferred side. Usually it's the poms who are guilty of over complicating the issues, but this theory is really scraping the barrel. What about the other seamers like Anderson particularly who alongside Flintoff can apply pressure at the other end. It is the ability of a team to mix up the bowling at both ends to force a batsmen to make an error. There is no chink in Fred's armour on this basis.

  • Domzo on July 27, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    I think you're actually underestimating Jimmy Anderson rather (not surprising given how he bowled in Australia last series). I don't know if you missed his spell with both new balls but he was very unlucky not to pick up 3 or 4 wickets in the second innings as well as the four in the first. Anderson is best against right handers because for a right arm quick swing bowler, LBW is almost completely out of the question against left handers. It's why the combination of Flintoff and Anderson with the new ball is a good one. If Fintoff can nip out Hughes or Katich early, Anderson then gets a chance at Ponting, who's really only vulnerable early, as per his first innings at Lords (which should have been plumb LBW rather than caught at slip, but was out either way).

  • HundredPercentBarcelonista on July 27, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    Flintoff averages 25 runs a wicket to right-handers and 34 to left-handers. Doesn't exactly point to him being more successful against southpaws.

  • Woody111 on July 27, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    Thankfully Buchanan is out of the picture for good. Let him confuse and complicate someone else's cricket. I don't think you can pick batsmen based on what an opposition bowler like to bowl to. Your plan comes unstuck as soon as he gets out a right hander. I don't see how you can drop North yet. While his ton in Cardiff was when Aus already had runs on the board he has decent. BUT, I don't think he'll be in the side in 12 months time. There's something about him that doesn't fill me with confidence. If Aus are in trouble he looks like the kind of bloke who will relent easily and become the next wicket far too quickly. Dropping Hughes is not giving up on him. He looks out of his depth to me and has plenty of time to carve an international career. Aus' desperation to find a new opener should not cloud judgement on the long term prospects of this young fella. There are players like Jaques and Rogers around who would only occupy the position for a couple of years before they retire.

  • jameslloyd on July 27, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    kirannerendran, its completely fair for the author to focus on Flintoff given the article is titled 'Let's get Fred' -what else would one expect?- and given the stream of other articles centered around the man. In addition, the article is no 'outburst of frustration', rather it is a sensible, considered analysis as to how the Australians might go about tackling the threat of Flintoff. It would be wise for a man giving advise to a professional journalist to read the title, and indeed the contents, of the article in question. A little less of your patronizing tone would also be much appreciated. "I hope you will look in to this in your future comments". As Waugh, or indeed Mr Ryan (I hope you are less familiar with strangers outside of Cricinfo) might say, 'Plonker!'

  • advanceaustraliafair on July 27, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    In your article, you say Clarke should be nudged up from no. 4 to no.5 - I'm sure you meant the other way around? Makes a lot of sense though, especially after the way Clarke played at Lord's.

    Also agree that Watson should come in for North at Edgbaston, he's in pretty good form and also gives a bit more depth to the bowling. It's tough on North though - two centuries in his first 4 tests is highly impressive.

    Glad John Buchanan left the national set-up. He wasted too much time thinking about issues which had nothing to do with cricket - "trying to reinvent the wheel" Shane Warne called it. I remember prior to the 2005 series, Buck made noises about wanting to meet Sir Alex Ferguson and brainstorm what makes great sides tick, rather than focusing on the fundamentals. It also annoys me how the English media bow to Buchanan as the "mastermind" of Australia's dominance.

    As an unrelated end note Christian, I loved your book about Kim Hughes! You did a great job!

  • kirannarendran on July 27, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    Dear Christian, I completely understand the feelings of an Aussie after losing to England in an Ashes, however being an esteemed writer, you should not biased too much towards your motherland. This article is an outburst of your frustration towards poms.You have mentioned more about tackling Freddie than mentioning about the other impuissance such as poor bowling and reckless batting. I hope you will look in to this in your future articles.

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  • kirannarendran on July 27, 2009, 3:55 GMT

    Dear Christian, I completely understand the feelings of an Aussie after losing to England in an Ashes, however being an esteemed writer, you should not biased too much towards your motherland. This article is an outburst of your frustration towards poms.You have mentioned more about tackling Freddie than mentioning about the other impuissance such as poor bowling and reckless batting. I hope you will look in to this in your future articles.

  • advanceaustraliafair on July 27, 2009, 4:26 GMT

    In your article, you say Clarke should be nudged up from no. 4 to no.5 - I'm sure you meant the other way around? Makes a lot of sense though, especially after the way Clarke played at Lord's.

    Also agree that Watson should come in for North at Edgbaston, he's in pretty good form and also gives a bit more depth to the bowling. It's tough on North though - two centuries in his first 4 tests is highly impressive.

    Glad John Buchanan left the national set-up. He wasted too much time thinking about issues which had nothing to do with cricket - "trying to reinvent the wheel" Shane Warne called it. I remember prior to the 2005 series, Buck made noises about wanting to meet Sir Alex Ferguson and brainstorm what makes great sides tick, rather than focusing on the fundamentals. It also annoys me how the English media bow to Buchanan as the "mastermind" of Australia's dominance.

    As an unrelated end note Christian, I loved your book about Kim Hughes! You did a great job!

  • jameslloyd on July 27, 2009, 6:14 GMT

    kirannerendran, its completely fair for the author to focus on Flintoff given the article is titled 'Let's get Fred' -what else would one expect?- and given the stream of other articles centered around the man. In addition, the article is no 'outburst of frustration', rather it is a sensible, considered analysis as to how the Australians might go about tackling the threat of Flintoff. It would be wise for a man giving advise to a professional journalist to read the title, and indeed the contents, of the article in question. A little less of your patronizing tone would also be much appreciated. "I hope you will look in to this in your future comments". As Waugh, or indeed Mr Ryan (I hope you are less familiar with strangers outside of Cricinfo) might say, 'Plonker!'

  • Woody111 on July 27, 2009, 6:20 GMT

    Thankfully Buchanan is out of the picture for good. Let him confuse and complicate someone else's cricket. I don't think you can pick batsmen based on what an opposition bowler like to bowl to. Your plan comes unstuck as soon as he gets out a right hander. I don't see how you can drop North yet. While his ton in Cardiff was when Aus already had runs on the board he has decent. BUT, I don't think he'll be in the side in 12 months time. There's something about him that doesn't fill me with confidence. If Aus are in trouble he looks like the kind of bloke who will relent easily and become the next wicket far too quickly. Dropping Hughes is not giving up on him. He looks out of his depth to me and has plenty of time to carve an international career. Aus' desperation to find a new opener should not cloud judgement on the long term prospects of this young fella. There are players like Jaques and Rogers around who would only occupy the position for a couple of years before they retire.

  • HundredPercentBarcelonista on July 27, 2009, 6:25 GMT

    Flintoff averages 25 runs a wicket to right-handers and 34 to left-handers. Doesn't exactly point to him being more successful against southpaws.

  • Domzo on July 27, 2009, 8:01 GMT

    I think you're actually underestimating Jimmy Anderson rather (not surprising given how he bowled in Australia last series). I don't know if you missed his spell with both new balls but he was very unlucky not to pick up 3 or 4 wickets in the second innings as well as the four in the first. Anderson is best against right handers because for a right arm quick swing bowler, LBW is almost completely out of the question against left handers. It's why the combination of Flintoff and Anderson with the new ball is a good one. If Fintoff can nip out Hughes or Katich early, Anderson then gets a chance at Ponting, who's really only vulnerable early, as per his first innings at Lords (which should have been plumb LBW rather than caught at slip, but was out either way).

  • oakey109 on July 27, 2009, 9:11 GMT

    Only 18 wickets of the 42 to fall are right handers? That is nearly 43%. How far away has he got to be from 50% for it to be considered a weakness? This stat alone serves to illustrate that Fred can bowl out batsmen irrespective of their preferred side. Usually it's the poms who are guilty of over complicating the issues, but this theory is really scraping the barrel. What about the other seamers like Anderson particularly who alongside Flintoff can apply pressure at the other end. It is the ability of a team to mix up the bowling at both ends to force a batsmen to make an error. There is no chink in Fred's armour on this basis.

  • JulesUK on July 27, 2009, 9:20 GMT

    The Aussies are worried! England are a two man team they tell us, and one of them is injured. That must be a huge gee-up for the other ten guys that will take the field on Sunday. "They think we're all rubbish, lads, let's show them we're not" will be all Strauus will have to say.

    England's attack has three of the top five test wicket takers in 2009 in it. Hint to Ricky - none of them are Andrew Flintoff.

  • kirannarendran on July 27, 2009, 9:31 GMT

    Hi Jameslloyd, I appreciate your time for scrutinizing my comments, how ever I would like to make it very clear that I am not against Mr. Ryan's comments. "Memo to England's hero: an extravagant pose is not warranted for a tailender's wicket"- This is caption of the picture placed in the article and what does it imply? Have you seen the gestures and chants by Australians, when they take wickets? The reality is that when Australians do this, it's a part of their 'playing cricket hard' pedigree and when others does this then it is 'Against the spirit of game'. I am not saying that Flintoff is a gentleman cricketer and also not against the tips provided by Mr.Ryan.I am deeply impressed with his gestures for providing tips to the Australian team for combating Freddie and I hope Punter will incorporate these, when he forge strategies for Edgbaston.

  • ToneMalone on July 27, 2009, 13:06 GMT

    Interesting idea, but I don't think there's enough here to make a statistical argument out of it. Let's look at it from a simpler angle: out of the Australian batsmen, which ones have been scratching around like farmyard chooks, even in the tour matches against the counties? Now that would be ... Hughes, Hussey and North. So Katich aside, which sane bowler *wouldn't* prefer to be bowling to an Australian southpaw at the moment!

    If one or more of these batsmen are to be dropped, do it because they're out of form - not to stack the order with right handers. The Australian selectors have already sent out a squad that makes it extremely difficult to maintain a balanced starting XI - too many all-rounders, and no back-up specialist opener. To rearrange the batting around one English bowler is akin to treating the symptoms rather than the cause.