Posts Tagged ‘paul collingwood’
No stone has been left unturned by Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss in readying their team for Australia. Once they realised that turning stones had absolutely no effect on anything they set about looking at their actual players.
Five of the English top six bear the mental scars of a grotesque routing last time the squad went on an Ashes tour. The sixth, Jonathon Trott, seems capable of creating his own internal frailties. But the necessary preparations have been made by the management to limit the potential strife caused by these unhappy memories.
Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood have been sat in front a carefully-edited highlights package of the last series in Australia, featuring only the first innings at Adelaide. The hole in Alastair Cook‘s technique outside off-stump has been exposed by Australian bowlers previously. To counter this, Cook has spent a month with the top French cricketers in an academy just outside of Paris straightening out his batting. Ian Bell was subject to a vicious brand of intellectual torture during last series when Shane Warne remarked on his similarity to the Shermanator from the seminal American Pie films. To avoid a repeat of these comparisons, Bell appears to have dyed his hair a lovely deep chestnutty colour. Now he looks like a young Ken Barlow. And no-one can sledge that.
The 2005 victory was built on the concept that the bowlers would find success ‘hunting in packs’. The coaching staff have deemed that it would prove providential to foster the same mentality this time round. For this reason our preferred quartet have been taken from the bosom of the squad and transported to Queensland early to fend for themselves in the bush. They will survive only by foraging on berries and preying on baby koala.
I think Paul Collingwood had a point last night in crying mathematical rape, having just been shafted by Duckworth while Lewis watched. But now Frank Duckworth wants his tell his side of the story. There are several noteworthy things about this:
1. Firstly Duckworth and Lewis look quite nice. And not the evil geniuses that I thought they were. I’m sure I once saw Duckworth talking enthusiatically about Norman churches on Open University during one of my bouts of insomnia. Lewis looks like a kindly deputy headmaster.
2. Tony Lewis is not the Tony Lewis that used to present BBC cricket. You know, the jolly slightly bumbling one with a ruddy face and a funny Welsh way of saying words like ‘sitooation’ and ‘ackurate’. It’s not him. I don’t think he’s got the requisite mental faculties. I once saw Tony Lewis naked in a changing room at a golf club near Swansea. The BBC one, not the maths one. I wouldn’t have known what the maths Tony Lewis looked like, clothes or otherwise.
3. Frank Duckworth (‘Vera’ to his mates) has the gulpy indignant tone of man who writes a lot of letters to his council and says ‘it beggars belief’ every time he opens his mouth.
4. Rain is nice.
Spare a thought for Steve Davies, England’s new third-choice wicketkeeper. Not only has he spent the last fortnight watching a South African interloper snuggle into his reserve keeper berth, but has been forced to do so from the uneasy distance of about 22 yards away. The England Lions novel tactic of opening the innings with two glovemen has pitted Davies against Craig Kieswetter in a cricketing version of a gladiatorial fight with pugil sticks, a tussle which has left Davies eating crash mat.
Kieswetter has almost certainly impressed the Colly-Flower management axis to such extent that he should think about packing his Bermuda shorts for the Caribbean and the Twenty20 World Cup. England could feasibly repeat the selection of two keepers in the side to accommodate Kieswetter at the top of the innings. It could catch on, like three centre-backs did in the nineties.
Davies is now left to stitch an ironic ‘England’s No.3′ into his gloves and head off down to the shadowy depths of LVCC Division 2 and his new club at the Oval. I wish him well, not only as a Surrey fan, but because there’s a vague danger that Chris Adams is currently transforming the county into a cricketing sister of Newcastle United: a graveyard for the potential of talented young cricketers, whose reputations are hoovered up into nothing.
Not that I’m overly pessimistic.
I saw a lot of Giles Clarke while I was in Cape Town. He isn’t difficult to miss: large, floppy-haired and forever tailed by David Collier, wheezing away like a consumptive bulldog. It appears that Clarke was making himself known at the Wanderers as well, righteously and indignantly ploughing into the row about the review system caused by Graeme Smith’s reprieve in the first innings. I sometimes wonder whether this is the very reason Clarke is employed by the ECB: to become aerated about stuff. His face seems designed to blither, as if a loud sonorous ‘bah’ is permanently wedged behind his teeth, ready to be discharged when necessary.
He explains the ECB attitude towards the reviews and their stance against at the ICC vote with the sombre pride of a man who’s just abolished slavery. He probably secretly enjoyed the continued inadequacies of umpire Harper, creating shells for his massive Luddite blunderbuss. But that’s the point really: the problems that were experienced in Johannesburg were not as a result of gremlins in the machine, just one incompetent Australian human. The fact the more correct decisions have been made in series than wrong ones seems to have been lost sight of not only by Clarke, but by Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss. Which is sort of disappointing. You expect this kind of cataract-impaired vision from an administrator, but not a usually equable coach and captain. They should understand that they would have lost the series without a second opinion upstairs: they can’t have forgotten Paul Collingwood’s first baller in the second innings at Newlands already surely?
Perhaps we shouldn’t be too harsh on Strauss. He is jaded after all. He probably doesn’t like anything about cricket right now. Perhaps Clarke should think about putting his feet up with him. Just don’t watch any Terminator films chaps.
A man I know once told me that just before drowning the victim is visited by a kind of serenity, calmly accepts their fate and gives up on their mortal struggle. I’m clueless as to how my friend came by this information. I’m assuming that he’s never drowned himself or conducted extensive research on ill-starred guinea pigs.
I think a similar tranquility swept through me yesterday morning as Boucher and De Villiers batted South Africa round the bend and down the home straight. Thus today when Paul Collingwood succumbed to the longest of all long hops, it was a source of dry amusement and not a reason to throttle next-door’s dachshund. Although Fluffy should watch his back next time Matt Prior decides that catching practice is the best form of defence.
So I’m grateful for a quick painless demise this weekend. Imagine if it had been Graham Onions’ off the last ball. We can thank the selectors for avoiding that one.
England aren’t playing cricket again for nearly a month. Which in modern terms is ages. I hope they remember what they’re doing when they get on the plane back to Sud A.
I also pray that no-one else rips their buttocks in the interim. For one member of the squad to rip his ass cheek asunder is unfortunate, two is definitely disconcerting. I can hardly compare Broad and Collingwood’s current posterior predicament to my own experience, but after I’ve played cricket my bum is probably the only part of my anatomy that doesn’t ache.
It largely just sits there during play, just at the top of my legs. sometimes wobbling vaguely as I lollop in to bowl, but generally not contributing anything to my performance. I can’t say I’ve studied the rears of many cricketers (with the possible exception of Andrew Caddick – whose bottom seemed to be moving its own rumba beat during his run-up) but I would suggest that my gluteal indolence is universal.
My hunch is that this current scourge among the England team is the result of some overenthusiastic ass-slapping, a practise which is becoming as dangerous as pre-match football warm-up. Time to nip this in the butt I think.
If yesterday had been an X Factor audition for England’s no.3 batsman at the Oval then Simon Cowell would have hitched up his trousers and flounced out of the studio some time after tea. At this rate no-one will step up to the task. Which presents an interesting tactical twist for the selectors to consider:
They don’t have to pick a no.3 at all. Imagine the Australian discombobulation when Strauss or Cook falls and Paul Collingwood comes charging out to bat at no.4. This also gives the management licence further down the order and introduce a no.12 for some clownish biffage late on in the innings to raise the spirits and annoy the oppostion to an extent that a no.3 could never achieve (no.12 is Monty Panesar’s favourite position and where he scored most first-class runs). The added advantage being that two spinners can now be chosen without any fear of further selectorial migraines, and bowl England to the victory they crave.
One of the more endearing things about cricket is its habitual descent into chaos. So when Matt Prior’s back went spastic during a warm-up game of football before the start of play, the ensuing shambles was not only entertaining but entirely expected. It’s an anomaly of test matches that when a wicket-keeper injures himself the contingency plans are much easier executed by the touring side than the home team. Hence when Brad Haddin cracked his finger last week the gloves were immediately tossed to an eager Graham Manou. But when Andrew Strauss watched as Prior was helped off, the alarms bells began to echo those in the England hotel last night.
Paul Collingwood took to the outfield and rehearsed his role as Prior’s understudy. He has stepped up before after all. And he enjoyed himself. He was laughing. But we were playing the West Indies at home which these days can be pretty hilarious. This is different. And then a call was put through to Timmy Ambrose down at Edgbaston. That’s quite a long way away. And the traffic can be murder on the motorway. And Headingley can be difficult to find and the parking isn’t great.
Thank the Lordy then that Prior saw the light and pulled through. And even better it seemed when Strauss won the toss and chose to bat to allow Prior to hobble off towards the nearest masseuse. But just as he was settling in to something deep and aromatic the call came to pad up and join the fray.
I can’t really remember a worse day for England since Kingston and Jerome Taylor. Which wasn’t that long ago actually but you try and forget these things. The Aussies bowled well, particularly Stuart Clark. Clark is by a distance my favourite current Australian cricketer: it’s mainly the dopey grin he wears when he takes a wicket – reminiscent of a large benign Doberman who’s just fetched a Frisbee for his master. It strikes me as vaguely appalling that he is also estate agent, because in my experience they are all evil. Maybe he’s one of the nice ones. The nice one.
I can’t really think what Clark did to be rewarded with Gatorade-dispensing duties for the first part of this summer. Maybe he sold Ricky Ponting a house that turned out to be rubbish.
Ponting had great fun pushing down on the knife that his bowlers had thrust into England’s chest. It’s almost a truism now to say that the jeering the accompanies his walk to the crease is moronic. Apart from anything else it just encourages the man. You could almost see it written on his face as he wheeled around for one of those trademark pulls to hit Graham Onions’ first ball for six. Boo that ladies and gentlemen. Boo that.
I knew that Ashes fever had reached London this morning when I minced out of Oxford Circus to be immediately offered a SkySports promotional miniature bat, one of those that cricket fans collect autographs on. Slightly optimistic given that my work is a good 30-minute walk from Lords and the chances of any of the cricketing glitterati wandering aimlessly down Baker St towards the West End were slim. Although I did see Lords Taverners legend John Kettley outside my office once.
Of course I was excited today. Not only was it the morning of the Lords Test against Australia, but also the first round of the Open golf championship up on the Ayrshire coast at Turnberry. I am normally more enthusiastic about this tournament but it has been relegated by the Ashes to the status of a diverting sideshow. I reckon that is because if Geoff Ogilvy or Adam Scott or some other plucky Australian finds their name etched onto the side of the Claret Jug I will stand and applaud and say ‘jolly well played cobber’.
If the name of Ricky Ponting is inscribed onto the little brown urn I will think that is wrong on several levels, but mostly because England have been vanquished again in the series. That particular fear subsided briefly this morning as the England openers set about the Australian bowling with eye-popping ferocity. Mitchell Johnson looked as if he was going to walk away there and then with the Jason Gillespie award for being surprisingly shit.
But as I suspected at lunch the English batsmen found new and novel ways to invite Australia back in the game. I wondered whether Paul Collingwood was worried about being typecast as a nuggetty cricketer after his performance in Cardiff as he pranced negligently down the wicket and back to the pavilion against Michael Clarke, a bowling temp.
Andrew Strauss will be proud of himself but frustrated by his colleagues as they missed an opportunity to put Australia out of the game. He might also be hounded by the terrifying thought that 500 might not be enough on this pitch against these baggy green batters.
The course of this game will be massively influenced by the weather and probably dictated the pace at which the match moved forward today. Perhaps Strauss and Ponting should consult John Kettley for some advice. I know where he is. He’s outside my office.