England Get The Trotts – Will It Lead To Runs?

The England selectors have handed Jonathan Trott the opportunity to make his England Test debut on Thursday with the news that he has replaced the stuttering Ravi Bopara for the final Ashes Test at The Oval.

Bopara’s omission from the squad is hardly surprising given the no.3’s performances with the bat this summer. He’s been a shadow of his former self, when you remember the succulent stroke play he punished the West Indian bowlers with just 3 months ago, but that was then and this is now. Bopara will have to focus on making amends for his Ashes nightmare when the Twenty20 and one day games begin in September.

I, like many England fans, would have preferred the selectors to have shown a little more faith in Bopara, who made an unbeaten 52 for Essex last week, steering them to victory over Middlesex. However, Bopara’s failure to regain his England place was down to his 7 dismal innings where his biggest score was 35 and he was averaging just 15. The statistics don’t lie. It simply wasn’t good enough. The bowlers Monty Panesar and Graeme Onions, who both bat at no.11, are the only players with lower averages than Bopara.

So to Trott, the man of the moment. He’s an unknown quantity in international Test cricket, which begs the question – Why choose to introduce him in the decisive Ashes Test, against an Australian team that have the bit between their teeth, and the momentum of a freight-train?

For such an important match, having a debutant may well be playing into the hands of the touring opposition. Australia will claim to be indifferent as to which 11 men they face on Thursday, but I’d bet that the prospect of facing a man of Trott’s inexperience will suit Johnson, Hilfenhaus and the rest of the Aussie attack.

I’m aware that Trott’s performances for Warwickshire this season have been exceptional, while statistics place him in the top four county batsmen, but to blood him for this huge, no, gigantic Test, does leave me scratching my head.

It would appear that Ashley Giles, a Warwickshire teammate of Trott’s, and member of the selection panel, seems to have a large influence on team selection. When you consider that Ian Bell, another Warwickshire cricketer, has kept his squad berth, Warwickshire favouritism seems to be in effect.

Bell, whose 3 innings this summer have confirmed that he fails to produce the goods against Aussie bowlers, has struggled after replacing Kevin Pietersen. If Bopara lost his place, then surely the faltering Bell should be making his journey back to county cricket too.

Without sounding negative, I do fear for the backlash if Trott fails at The Oval. Criticism will be flung at the selectors for choosing inexperience for a game of such magnitude, while if he was to make back to back centuries, then it would indicate he should have been in the XI since Cardiff, and that his introduction was long overdue. Who’d be a selector, hey?

But now, we wait, the squad is decided, it just a matter of the players doing their job for the biggest 5 days of their life. One man who has played in a game of similar significance before, Andrew “the first name on the team sheet” Flintoff, has huge wicket taking responsibilities, while Jimmy Anderson and Graeme Swann are surely to feature alongside Big Fred.

I’d be expecting Onions and Sidebottom to miss out, and then for Harmison or Panesar to take the final place in the bowling attack. The fact is that England requires all 20 Australian wickets, and so variety in their bowling attack is essential, so that we reign supreme at The Oval, finishing these Ashes as the victors.

Guest Post by David Owen

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Retiring From Test Match Cricket

You’ll have noticed that I haven’t posted anything on the site since England’s humiliating defeat at Headingley. Despite what our Aussie readers might be thinking, it’s not because I’ve been sulking or because I only write stuff when England win. Let’s face it. If the latter were true I’d never write anything.

The reason I’ve not updated Flintoff’s Ashes is because I’ve spent the last week getting ready for my Test match debut at The Oval.

As I read the newspapers on the Monday after England’s shocking performance in Leeds it became quite clear that there were going to be some major changes to the team for the Oval Test match. Looking at some of the names suggested, it struck me that I might be in with a chance of selection. After all it seemed that age was not going to be a barrier, being a window licking mentalist wouldn’t preclude me and the fact I like a pie and a pint seemed to indicate that I was a shoo in for the vacant number three position.

The last week has been spent honing my batting technique in the nets, working on the cardio vascular machines in the gym to get my fitness levels right for a gruelling three day Test match and preparing myself for the inevitable ‘mental disintegration’ from the Aussies by getting my nephew to hurl insults at me for hours on end. It was an interesting week. I didn’t realise my nephew was of the belief that I have had carnal knowledge of his grandmother.

Anyway, after a sleepless night I sat by the phone this morning waiting for the call from Geoff Miller. A scene, I imagine, played out across the country by anyone who has ever held a cricket bat in their life. After all, Mr Miller had gone on record as saying he wasn’t ruling anyone out so if he was true to his word then I was in with a chance of playing. And so were you. However I bet you hadn’t spent the week preparing for the game, had you? That’s why I had the edge. That’s why I was confident I would get the call.

However, as you’ll probably know by now, Miller reneged on the deal and ended up picking someone who plays county cricket. Again.

Why, Mr Miller? Why? Why do this to me us? Why give us all a hope of playing for England in the deciding match of the Ashes series and then go back on your word? You’re not fooling anyone. When you said “I’m not ruling anyone out” you didn’t mean it, did you? You never intended on picking anyone outside of your little circle of buddies, did you? If the England cricket team isn’t an Old Boys Club then I don’t know what is.

Well here’s a thing, Miller. I never trusted you back in the 70′s. That tash made you look like a geography teacher. A geography teacher with an unhealthy interest in helping out on sports day. I could see through your corduroy jacket with leather elbows patches back then and you’ve done nothing since to convince me that you’re anything other than a liar and a charlatan.

You made a big statement and then couldn’t or wouldn’t back it up. You’re a fraud.

As a result of your shameless about face I hereby announce my immediate retirement from Test cricket. It’s clear that despite your assurances that I figured in your plans that you’ll continue to pick the England team from the minute pool of talent that is the County Championship. Maybe if I’d been born in South Africa things would have been different but somehow I doubt it.

Headline Photo: Mark Hillary

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What Team Should England Go With For Headingley?


The fourth Ashes Test starts at Headingley tomorrow. This excites many people around the country, including me. Not only are we set for another five days of competitive cricket between England and Australia but the series could be decided.

If Andrew Strauss’ men emerge victorious in Leeds, they would have regained the Ashes. A 2-0 series lead would be taken into the final Test at The Oval with Ricky Ponting’s men only able to aim for a consolation victory. (MB: I hope so cuz I’ve got a tenner on 2-1 @17/2!)

This is a long way off at the moment though. Australia are far from done on this tour as yet and will be determined to take the series into a final Test decider.

So, it is all eyes on Headingley and the first point of interest will be the team that England put out. Will they go with an extra batsman? Will they bring in Ryan Sidebottom or Steve Harmison to shake up the bowling line-up?

Well, a lot depends on the fitness of Andrew Flintoff. His all-round ability provides a great balance to the team and if he is unavailable, there are one or two changes that will have to be made. So, I think it is best to go with a ‘Freddie Fit’ team and a ‘Freddie Un-Fit’ team.

Freddie Fit:

Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Matt Prior, Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Broad, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Graham Onions.

I appreciate that this is a bit boring as I have gone for the same team as the last Test at Edgbaston. However, if Flintoff is fit to bowl, I don’t see the need to change it. There is enough form in this bowling line-up to bowl-out Australia twice and there is enough batting to post at least one score of above 400.

Freddie Un-Fit:

Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook, Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Jonathan Trott, Matt Prior, Graeme Swann, James Anderson, Steve Harmison, Graham Onions.

This might not be the most popular team choice, but if Flintoff isn’t fit you have to bolster the batting line-up a little bit. This isn’t a negative tactic because England are 1-0 up, it is a sensible tactic to try and ensure that the team scores enough runs to force a result.

So, Trott comes in at No.6 to replace Flintoff. Then, Harmison comes in to replace Broad. This is so England can get someone in their bowling line-up who does a similar job to that of Flintoff. Harmison has had his troubles, but Australia don’t like facing him. Simple as that.

The only worry with this second team is whether the bowling is too light. There will be only four front-line bowlers, after all. If this proved a significant concern after looking at the pitch, Broad would keep his place and bat at No.7 with Harmison coming in as a straight swap for Flintoff.

We won’t know about Freddie’s fitness until the morning, so plenty of decisions to be made for Strauss and Andy Flower before the coin is tossed! Before then, keep a close eye on the Fourth Test odds before making your Headingley Test bet. (MB: Thomas is spot on. Betfair are currently trading at 4.3 for an England win which is miles better than anyone else but get on it before Freddie is declared unfit as the price will drop)

By Thomas Rooney, a sports blogger who writes about Ashes Test cricket

Headingley photo credit: Tony Kennick

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Ashes Cricket Blog Watch

The third Test fizzled out into an altogether predictable draw. Part of me was disappointed with the result. The other part of me was elated when I picked up my £40 from Coral’s this morning having wagered twenty notes on a draw at evens before a ball was bowled.

Twitter post predicting Edgbaston Test draw

Interestingly enough, the other part of my prediction didn’t come true. I didn’t get any more work done. Ho hum…

Anyway I’ve been looking over the reaction to the third Test on the blogs today and, on the whole, most cricket bloggers agree that a draw was pretty much the right result. Neither side really did enough to win the game and the England batting tactics were borne out of a desire to get a result rather than anything else.

That is apart from Jon over at Cricket-Blog.com. See if you can guess where Jon lives from this extract from his blog:

I think I can say…that if you elimated [sic] weather and umpire errors, Australia would be leading this series 3-nil.
From post marked Edgbaston review: England saved by the weather

Now don’t get me wrong. I like Jon and I enjoy reading his blog. Equally, despite what you might have read elsewhere, I like Australians. I think everyone should have one.

However when I read this I laughed so hard that a little bit of wee came out.

Headline photo courtesy of makelessnoise

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Cricket Tweeting Twattery

I missed most of today’s play because I was enduring yet another defeat for my village cricket team but, from what I’ve seen, it’s all set up nicely for the last day of the third Ashes Test. The convicts are effectively -25 for two with the weather looking like we’re going to get in probably 80 or so overs tomorrow.

As @Jason_Gillespie says on Twitter: Only one side can hope to win now, and that is England” and, despite the fact he’s Australian, he’s absolutely right. There are now only two results available – England win or a draw. My pocket says the £20 I put on a draw at evens is the result I want but, of course, my head, heart, arms, legs and dangly toilet parts want an English win so, instead, I will be spending my day tomorrow at The Beehive in Vauxhall live Twittering/Tweeting/Twatting and praying for an England win.

Feel free to come along and join me. I will be the one, courtesy of a fielding injury today, walking like a man who has been fisted by Mike Tyson.

Talking of Twitter, I had planned to write a piece about cricket lovers on Twitter before this game began but, as a result of @PH408 announcing he had been dropped from the team before it was officially announced, the whole cricket blog world has been full of Twitter this, Twitter that.

Anyone who has been following this site for a while will know that I was planning on running an alternative to Twitter called Twatter (see below). Guess that’s dead in the water now that everyone is on Twitter so I figure I may as well just list the people I follow on Twitter who mainly tweet about his glorious game.

Please feel free to let me know in the comment anyone I have missed and I will add them to the list.

  • @MikeBusson – that’s me, that is. I don’t just tweet about cricket. I have a real life. Honest.
  • @philtufnell – Phil Tufnell. Happy days…
  • @2009TheAshes – what is says on the tin
  • @Jason_Gillespie – Dizzy gives a surprisingly unbiased view of the cricket
  • @BumbleCricket – David Lloyd. Genius. On my ultimate dinner party list. I love this man despite his freaky eyebrows
  • @DGoughie - Darren Gough. Heart like a lion full of English blood
  • @AlisonMitchell – Alison Mitchell is female. She loves cricket. I think I love her.
  • @Aggerscricket -Jonathan Agnew. The voice of TMS. (Note I will not include Blowers in my Twitter list. He annoys me so don’t ask)
  • @JimmyAnderson9 – James Anderson. Occasionally brilliant England bowler. Too often not.
  • @Swannyg66 – Graeme Swann. More deliveries like the one he got the window licker out with today and I might have his babies.
  • @GeoffreyBoycott – Not convinced this is the real Boycott. He’s not bitter enough or harping on about how it was better in his day…
  • @MissField – Astrid runs an Aussie cricket blog. She loves the game. I’d buy her a beer if she were in London.
  • @BBCTMS - It’s Test Match Special. On Twitter. ‘Nuff said.
  • @SledgerTW4C – The Wisden Cricket blogging guys on Twitter. Huzzah!
  • @SuaveRepublic – Cricket blogger and toff.
  • @StephenFry – If you’re already on Twitter then the chances ae you’re following him already but he’s a massive cricket fan as his recent speech suggests.

So if you’re on Twitter, follow me and endure enjoy a day of live tweeting the cricket from the pub. It could get messy!

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