Kevin Pietersen Out Of Ashes Series

UPDATE 14:17 – BBC News website confirms that Pietersen will miss the rest of the Ashes series – BBC Pietersen Post. The ECB have confirmed that KP has had surgery on his Achilles and will be out of action for 6 weeks.

If you thought that was bad enough, the Beeb also suggest Ian Bell is likely to be drafted in as his replacement.

BREAKING NEWS: Kevin Pietersen is out of the rest of the 2009 Ashes series. After visiting a specialist about his Achilles injury, the decision has been made that he will not be able to take any further part in the Ashes battle.

More news when it’s available but this is a serious blow to England’s hopes of retaining the Ashes. Even though he’s not been in good form with the bat so far in this series, Pietersen is the one batsman that Australia fear because he has the ability to turn a Test match in one session.

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First Test Reaction

If ever you thought that Sky Sports was too expensive, I’d suggest that the look on Pontings face in the closing minutes of the first Ashes Test was worth every single penny. He looked like a bulldog licking piss off a nettle.

Jimmy Anderson may well be the record holder for the most number of innings since debut without a duck but at 6pm yesterday you wouldn’t have bet on him and Monty batting out three quarters of an hour and saving the Test, would you? Let’s be honest here. Panesar only bats at number eleven because you can’t put him at number 12.Yet somehow survive they did and we go to Lord’s all square.

If I’d written this post at lunch on day 5 the title would have been something along the lines of “Spineless” or “Clueless” or “You Bunch Of Fucking Wankers”. However, since I was heading out the door to play cricket myself, I didn’t get a chance to update the blog so, instead, I left this message on Twitter:

Nuts to this. I’m off to play cricket. ECB selectors I’m available if you’re looking for another hopeless batsman who can’t spin the ball

True enough, I bowled 5 overs without the ball deviating so much as a millimetre and I got out playing a soft shot for 7 so I made sure my mobile was on as I headed off to the bar to watch the last knockings in the Cardiff Test. I’d guessed we were nine down by the collective groans from the handful of die hards sitting in front of the TV.

The masochistic tendencies shown by England cricket fans would have the Marquis de Sade wincing. However this random collection of cricket enthusiasts and cricket less than enthusiasts (i.e. their wives) were full of optimism that Jimmy and Monty could save the game. Full of optimism or Kronenbourg. One of the two.

The final 45 minutes of this match proved why Test match cricket is the premium version of the game. To hear a capacity crowd cheering every dot ball. To see the Australian bowlers straining every sinew of their body to get that last wicket. To see monkey man Ponting throwing his toys out the pram when the England physio came on.

Kim Hughes - Almost As Useless As Ricky Ponting

And that brings me nicely on to my next point. This game finished a draw because Ricky Ponting is the worst Australian captain since Kim Hughes. He is a world class batsman but, as a captain, he is shocking. It was easy for him when he could turn to Shane Warne or Glenn McGrath and chuck them the ball. He had players like Hayden, Langer and Gilchrist to get him out of the shit with the bat. Take all of them away and he’s shown up for being what he really is. A crap captain. Just what in the name of Stuart Broads jockstrap was he thinking in bringing on Marcus North to bowl the last few overs?

England were woeful in this Test. Of the 15 sessions of play, you can probably give the convicts Australians all but two. At the time I thought 435 was a below par score but enough for us to make a match of it. However the next few days showed up an alarming lack of application by the England bowlers. Outside of Freddie Flintoff’s opening spell, I never really saw a wicket coming. Credit where it’s due, with the exception of Mister Cricket (who should surely be renamed Mister Ball) the Aussie batsman looked superb.

As I say, I don’t rate his captaincy but Ponting is one of the best Test match batsmen I have seen. Katich was a completely different player to the one we saw here in ’05 and, as predicted by Tony from After Grog Blog Haddins batting average in on the way up. As a batting line up the Aussies look pretty solid.

However, despite taking 19 wickets, I still don’t rate their bowling attack. Mitchell Johnson is a bit Harmisonesque – one minute he looks a world beater, the next he looks like a wife beater. Hilfenhaus is short of the couple of yards of pace that would not only make him a genuinely quick bowler but also make it nigh on impossible for any commentator to finish saying his name before the ball hit the stumps. Peter Siddle will never be taken seriously as a Test bowler whilst he has a whores muff stapled to his chin and after a long bowling spell Nathan Hauritz looks too much like Gareth Gates to be a world class spinner. (Note: I tried to find a picture to illustrate this but after a Google search for “hot and sweaty Gareth Gates” I gave up as I had some sick in my mouth)

England were outplayed in this Test, there’s no question of that, but the fact remains that the series remains level with four to play. It’s interesting to see that Australia’s answer to Mystic Meg – Glenn McGrath – has now changed his prediction to a 4-0 series win. Well done, Glenn. I’m glad to see that you’ve spent your retirement mastering the rudiments of mathematics. Not for the first time, though, I’m going to disagree with you. I still stand by my original prediction of a 2-1 series win.

Why?

  1. That losing draw in Cardiff will be the kick up the arse some of those England players needed. Too many of them were believing their own press and they listened to too much of the “this Australian team is the worst to come here for years” nonsense the press have been spouting off for the last few months. Sure, they’re not the Invincibles but you put an Australian dominoes team up against the English and they will fight you every single inch of the way so do not underestimate the old enemy.
  2. As a unit, our bowling attack will not perform as badly as that again. In 30 years of watching Test cricket I’ve not witnessed such an inept display as that shown by Messrs Anderson, Broad, Swann, Flintoff or Panesar so the chances of it happening twice in a couple of months is unlikely.
  3. Kevin Pietersen will have watched his dismissals in this Test match over and over on tape and realised that his lucrative sponsorship deals are at risk if he ever plays shots like that again. Let’s face it, if you were a marketing exec for sadida*would you want your brand associated with a clueless fuckwit?
  4. Likewise Alastair Cook. His eyeliner contract with lemmiR* will be in jeopardy if he fails at Lord’s.
  5. England will drop Monty Panesar. I’m sorry, Monty, I know I’ve championed you in the past but I’m of the same belief as Shane Warne. I don’t believe you’ve learnt enough in your 30+ Test matches to be considered a Test match player. Yes, I know you saved the game this time but, let’s face it, when New Zealand’s Chris Martin looks a better batter and Steven Hawking looks a more mobile fielder, you’ve got to be able to turn it on with the ball. Or just turn it.
  6. The England squad and the entire backroom staff – all 358 of them – would not dare to do anything other than win the series 2-1. They know I have a tenner riding on it and that I will be after them if they fail me. I have connections, you know, and I also know where every single one of them will be on August 24th so let that be a warning.

Despite an exceptionally disappointing performance by England, the series remains all square going into the Lord’s Test match. Mystic McGrath points out that we’ve not won an Ashes Test there since 1934 and, to be honest, I don’t see much changing this time around. However, given the weather forecast, my gut feeling is another draw (11/10 at both Paddy Power and Sportingbet) with England snatching back some pride by playing four seamers and giving the Aussie top order a working over.

*- name changed to prevent expensive lawsuits

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ICC World Twenty20 Starts Tomorrow

Twenty20 World CupSo after literally minutes of anticipation, the ICC World Twenty20 competition is upon us. Not only that but it’s the Women’s Twenty20 World Cup too. Be still my beating heart…

Forget the Ashes. This is what we’ve all been waiting for, right? Who cares about that silly, overrated Test match business. This is the real deal. World famous athletes at the top of their game going head-to-head in a bludgeoning battle of ball bashing brutality. If Bangladesh v Ireland doesn’t get your pulse racing then you’re clinically dead already.

Let’s not forget the ladies. Fresh from their success in the Women’s World Cup in Oz, the English lesbians ladies take on the moustachioed might of India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to fight for the right to spank New Zealand in the final. Again. My only concern here is that with 22 women on the pitch, who is going to make the teas?

Oh bollocks. Who am I trying to kid? I couldn’t give a squirrels scrotum about the next two and a half weeks. The chances are I won’t even bother watching it. It’s just another example of the I Crave Cash organisation trying to squeeze yet another meaningless tournament into the crowded international cricket calendar.

Want to stop global warming? Stop all these poxy tournaments. I’d love to know what the carbon footprint is for each of the international cricket teams. I’m no tree hugging hippie but I reckon that if you went back to the old days and made Australia travel by boat, the polar bears would have more ice caps than they could shake their left paw at*.

It seems utterly crazy to schedule in the Twenty20 so close to the Ashes series. To all those people who say “it will increase interest in the Test series”, I say you’re talking piffle. England v Australia for the Ashes shouldn’t and doesn’t need any kind of hyping up despite the best efforts of the ECB to ensure that only a tiny fraction of the country can actually watch the series.

So when Kevin Pietersen, Stuart Broad, Paul Collingwood and Jimmy Anderson get injured in the World Twenty20, are the ECB still going to think it was a good idea?

Still, on the plus side the boys at King Cricket are practically walking around with a permanent lazy lob as a result of Rob Key making it into the England squad, Andrew Symonds’ international career can now be officially classed as over following his latest drunken antics and let’s not forget our old friend Shoaib “I’ve got genital warts” Akhtar. Quite possibly the best excuse for pulling out of a squad I’ve ever heard. If only he had pulled out of the ropey old Doris he caught it from…

* all polar bears are left handed. Did you know that?

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Who Will Captain England in World Twenty20?

It came as quite a surprise to me that Andrew Strauss was left out of England’s provisional 30-man squad for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.

After his more than acceptable performances in the ODI games against the West Indies in recent weeks, I thought he had done enough. Especially when you consider how positively he batted when England were chasing 135 in 20 overs during the fourth match of the series.

However, it appears that the England selectors were unconvinced that he had a future in the limited overs game and decided to go without him for this tournament. It means that his future in the 50-over game also has to be in doubt.

Another result of this decision is that England will have split captaincy this summer. Not ideal in my opinion. It is how it is though, so who are the candidates to take charge of the England Twenty20 World Cup side this summer?

Kevin Pietersen – This would be an interesting move wouldn’t it? Less than a year after controversially resigning, KP could be back in charge as England hosts a World Twenty20 tournament. It could happen, but I think the selectors will think carefully about this one.

Paul Collingwood – Colly stepped down from the ODI captaincy when Michael Vaughan resigned from the Test role. Personally, I don’t think he would take this position even if offered it.

Andrew Flintoff – I hope the selectors steer well clear of even considering appointing Flintoff. He needs to be left to play his cricket and be England’s most dangerous and influential bowler.

Rob Key – Should the position just be a temporary measure, then the Kent skipper could fit the role perfectly. He is highly rated as a captain and knows this form of the game better than most. Is he good enough to be in the team though?

Shaun Udal – The 40-year-old will be delighted he is even in the squad. Having led Middlesex to Twenty20 success last year, the selectors may well consider him for a more senior role in the England team. Unlikely, but you never know.

So, these are the five candidates. The two front-runners, in my opinion, are Pietersen and Key. Should the selectors feel the timing is right to hand KP the role, then he is the obvious choice.

Should they feel they need to wait a while before handing him the captaincy again, Key could be handed the responsibility. A decision is expected to be made when a new team director is appointed.

Guest Post by Thomas Rooney

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Woodworm Cricket Bats Won The Ashes

Woodworm cricket bats won the 2005 Ashes!

OK, well maybe not, but they’ll always be associated with the famous Ashes victory and we’re pleased here at Flintoffs Ashes to see that the Woodworm cricket brand is back.

You may recall that Woodworm disappeared off the scene a couple of years ago which led to both Andrew Flintoff and Kevin Pietersen switching to adidas cricket bats. Well those lovely chaps at Sports HQ have now purchased the Woodworm brand.

The Sports HQ are delighted to announce that we have just purchased Woodworm, the world famous cricket brand. Woodworm will always be remembered as the bats used by Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Freddie Flintoff in the 2005 Ashes. The new era for Woodworm is an exciting one and will see more and more new signings.

As a result of this new deal, Sports HQ are offering up to 80% off the 2008 range including cricket bats, batting pads, batting gloves and equipment. They are also offering you the chance to win a signed Kevin Pietersen bat. Huzzah!

To get yourself some brand new sparkling kit for the 2009 season just head on over to the new Woodworm Cricket site and tell them Mike from Flintoffs Ashes sent you :)


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