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Posts Tagged ‘ashes’

Dutch cricket has had quite a summer – as England can attest – but it will no longer be able to rely on the services of ‘Don’t Call Him Dirty’ Dirk Nannes, who has been called up by Australia (at last) for the Twenty20 internationals at Old Trafford that will follow the Ashes. Although Nannes‘ appearances for the Netherlands do not preclude him from playing for Australia, were he to play for the latter it would mean he was ineligible to play for the ‘minnows’ again for at least four years (by which time he would be 37).

There may be some consolation for Dutch cricket fans in reports that their side may be included in the One-Day competition that the ECB are planning to replace the current Friends Provident Trophy with in their (relative) shake-up of county cricket. Given that Ireland and Scotland have had an involvement in the FPT for some time, this is likely to be welcomed as an opportunity for Dutch players to gain experience against a higher quality of opposition than it the case at the moment.

If that’s not enough to console Dutch fans, they can perhaps take some comfort in the fact that Nannes’ selection for the Aussies has brought pleasure to others

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Apparently, absolutely no one has been ruled out of the running for inclusion in the side to play the Fifth Test at the Oval, so make sure you’re prepared in case you get a call next week to say you’re in the squad. Let’s face it, the prospect of you playing for England in the Ashes is no less ridiculous than the possibility of Mark Ramprakash getting a Test recall.

Having failed to explicitly deny the possibility of recalling the world’s biggest Transformers fan, Geoff Miller went on to suggest that picking anyone other than Jonathan Trott would run counter to the “logical thinking” that had seen him installed as backup at Headingley. Given the selectors’ past record, some might say that’s almost a guarantee that Trott won’t play at the Oval.

If Ramprakash were to be brought back into the side, what sort of message would that be sending to those who have toiled in the England Lions squad, or to the many players called up as cover in the past? Probably not an encouraging one, even if it was seen as a last throw of the dice by the home side.

Once again, it seems the English selectors (or, in this case, certainly the English cricketing media – to be fair, the squad hasn’t been announced yet) have only two modes – chummy cosiness with change feared almost as much as it is by Daily Mail readers, and wild panic-driven desperation.

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The so-called ‘Langer dossier‘ detailing all of England’s failings (which, incidentally, Justin Langer almost certainly didn’t write) is getting a lot of coverage today – but it’s hardly full of revelations. In the words of Michael Vaughan, “If I had been asked to write a dossier on English cricket, I would have come up with many of the same points“.

Any English cricket fan could tell you that the team’s heads drop when they’re up against it, that Matt Prior and Graeme Swann have large egos and that Jimmy Anderson can fall apart when things aren’t going his way. Perhaps the dossier also contained suggestions that Pietersen rates himself highly and that Andrew Flintoff likes a beer or two.

A far more profound insight into the (lack of) mental strength of England’s cricketers could be gained purely by watching them bat in the current Test.

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In retrospect, I think England’s collapse to 102 all out (seemingly a tribute to the Ashes performances of 10 or 15 years ago) has been due for some time. Even when making large scores, whole sections of the batting order have been weak or anonymous, and the lack of confidence among many of the players is painfully evident.

Still, it’s a horrible, horrible performance from England (even if they managed to double the score they made against the Windies in February).

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The prospect of England going into a crucial Fourth Ashes Test at Headingley without either Kevin Pietersen or Andrew Flintoff is enough to fill any Pom with dread, and it looks like it might be about to happen. Pietersen, of course, is out with an Achillies injury, and Flintoff is looking doubtful, to say the least.

Although the absence of their only two undoubtedly world-class players didn’t cause England too many problems against the West Indies over the summer, the Australians – however lacking in ‘aura‘ – are a different proposition entirely. Watch out – the Aussie fightback may just start here.

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Australia are facing the prospect of losing their ranking as the world’s best Test side for the first time since 2003. Only victory at both Headingley and The Oval would see the Aussies hold on to top spot, whilst defeat in the Ashes series could see them sink below South Africa, India and Sri Lanka to fourth, which would be their lowest ranking since the current system began. With the weather forecast for Leeds not looking great (as well as the fact that the pitch no longer favours bowlers as it used to) and The Oval’s growing resemblance to a pancake, the tourists could be facing a serious rankings slump.

To be honest, Australia have long since ceased to enjoy the level of dominance that, for younger cricket fans, they seemed to have possessed for eons. The ultimate humiliation, although very unlikely, could come later in the summer – at the time of writing, Australia only lead England in the ODI rankings by 8 points (Australia are in third with 119 points, England are fourth with 111).

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For anyone currently scratching their heads and thinking ‘who on earth is Jonathan Trott?’, here are a couple of nuggets of information about the man they call ‘Trotters’:

  • The last time a Test was played at Headingley, there was also a surprise call-up for a player with Antipodean origins – Darren Pattinson. England – be afraid, be very afraid.

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