Tag Archives: Paul Collingwood

Third Test Post-Mortem

So the collective feeling of English optimism was quickly sent running for the hills with its tail between its legs in Perth, and my body clock was utterly wrecked by the fact that the WACA’s in a different time zone.  What a nice sequence of events it proved to be.

Highlights

  • Paul Collingwood’s über awesome diving catch to get rid of Ricky Ponting in the first innings.  Not that I saw it live as I was in the kitchen making a cup of Horlicks and bemoaning the lack of a slip in the position which Ponting had edged through at the start of his innings.
  • Shane Watson’s hissy fit when he was out for 95 in the second innings.  What made it all the more amusing was how adamant he was that he’d edged the ball first, despite his unsuccessful referral of the decision saying otherwise.
  • Chris Tremlett bowled rather well.
  • Australia’s bowlers spared us a whole day of watching the tailenders struggle.

Lowlights

  • Reality slapping us all in the face and reminding us that our batting lineup isn’t always going to look invincible when Mitchell Johnson suddenly finds an iota of late swing.
  • Collingwood getting out to the last ball of the third day ranks up there with Michael Clarke in terms of setting the tone for the next day.
  • Getting tonked so soon after a comprehensive win can be pretty hard to stomach, although I was probably too tired to care at the time.

I suppose that it was inevitable that all the voices of dissent would emerge from the woodwork after a match like them, so I thought I’d join in.

England

  • The bowling attack is suddenly under scrutiny, and it can’t entirely be blamed on Stuart Broad’s injury, since Chris Tremlett didn’t look out of place at all.  What was worrying was James Anderson lacking the same degree of control which he had achieved in Adelaide, whilst Steve Finn’s bowling suddenly looked fairly attractive to Australian batsmen, resulting in him going for around five runs an over.
  • The only highlight for Graeme Swann was the wicket of Hussey in the first innings – from then on, it was all downhill.  Not that you can really be that critical of him, the WACA pitch didn’t have much in it for the spinners, hence Australia’s five-strong seam attack.
  • The batting went from god-like in Adelaide to quivering field mouse-esque in the first session of the second day, a transformation from which they didn’t recover.
  • It’s not necessarily cause to start panicking over, although given how relatively comfortable Ian Bell’s looked, perhaps it would be a good idea to move him above Collingwood so that he has more batting partners to eventually run out of.  Or just tell Collingwood that he’s at last chance saloon, that tends to bear fruit.
  • The talk about ‘resting’ Finn for Melbourne has left me raging over comments in the media.  Quit with the euphemisms and admit that he bowled bobbins and that possible alternatives are being lined up – see it as character building.  Whether Tim Bresnan would cause Australian batsmen to lose sleep is anyone’s guess.

Austalia

  • Battering us has probably done the series a world of good, given how many fans in Australia seem to get turned off of cricket the minute Australia look a bit turd.
  • Mitchell Johnson was back to his best, making the decision to rest him in Adelaide look a masterstroke.  The ‘resting’ of Steven Finn is probably England’s attempt for similar results.
  • Mitchell Johnson’s form doesn’t necessarily guarantee that he’ll play as well in the next Test, nor will he have the Fremantle Doctor over his shoulder.  But then I said something similar about Michael Hussey being crap after career saving centuries, so I’m willing to believe whatever happens in this series now.
  • What’s more remarkable is how Australia managed to win as comfortably as they did with the likes of Phil Hughes and Steve Smith in the top six.  Correct, some genius thought that bits and pieces cricketer Smith could do a better job at #6 than in-form Brad Haddin.  And with Ponting and Clarke not necessarily batting well, it’s been largely the likes of Watson, Haddin and Dr. Cricket, Michael Hussey getting all the runs.

Suddenly this series has exploded with unpredictability.  Good for Test cricket, bad for people who make relatively safe bets.

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England’s Ashes Squad – Trott love and the Middle Order

One of the rarest sights in cricket is a pair of English middle order batsmen putting on a big partnership.  Such was the frequency of batting collapses during England innings, it was thought for a while that the middle order batsman had in fact become extinct during the 1990s, reportedly due to exposure to Shane Warne/Curtly Ambrose/reverse swing.  Should you see England go from 190/2 to 215 all out, don’t be alarmed, it’s the norm.

This sort of occurrence has happened on so many occasions, it doesn’t seem right to say it’s a technical thing, else Paul Collingwood and his shovel shot would have been ditched many series ago.  The only analogy I can come up with to describe these spectacular collapses is that England’s batting line up is similar to a pack of Covenant Grunts in the video game Halo.  When their Elite leader is killed by the player, they start to panic (“Leader dead! Run away!”), cease firing at the player and run around in a frenzy.  In the case of England, when the prized wicket (say Strauss or Atherton back in the day) falls, they all seem to lose their heads.

I’d like to be able to say that the middle order now fills me full of positive thoughts, but it still managed to happen against Pakistan this summer, although Pakistan proceeded to spend the series trying and succeeding in outdoing them in the flakiness department.

At least the question of who bats at number three doesn’t appear to be hovering around like the bad smell it was in 2009.

Following an underwhelming series in South Africa, Jonathan Trott suddenly became the luxury part of the England set up whose value gets questioned.  Ian Bell’s routine bullying of Bangladesh’s bowling attack and the dilemma of whether to use five bowlers or four led to some suggesting that he wasn’t really needed – this despite a rather good double century at Lord’s.

As it turned out, it was Bell’s metatarsal which gave way rather than Trott’s place in the team and he ended up being part of the most memorable eighth wicket stand in recent history.  Never mind that his cover drive isn’t quite as slick as Bell’s or that he lacks the swagger (read: punchable face) of Ravi Bopara, his composure out in the middle acts as the foundation on which he builds an innings.  However, this does mean that you lose half a session of play, as he likes to take guard as often as MCC members are likely to fall asleep at Lord’s.

Idiosyncrasies aside, I’m a big fan of Trott.  His consistency in the County Championship gave merit to his selection, rather than some old duffers bigging up their county friends, and he has so far justified it by providing us with some important innings, be they to hold out for a draw or set up a victory.  Perhaps my favourite thing about him is the way he gets under the opposition’s skin.  South Africa weren’t too pleased with his guard taking when they were trying to take wickets against the clock, Bangladesh’s seamers didn’t even allow him the opportunity to look up before starting their run ups, and his antics against Pakistan didn’t exactly endear him to their players (Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz in particular) or supporters.

What tops it off for me however, is that he looks like a really dour version of Russell Crowe with thinning hair.  Nuts to Shane Warne comparing him to Vince Vaughn, I could never see him leaning away from a bouncer before going back to check his guard.  Trott taking his guard reminds me of Maximus in Gladiator rubbing the dust of the arena between his hands before battle, whilst the music when the gladiators unexpectedly win in the Coliseum played in my head when he reached his hundred against Pakistan at Lord’s.

Hopefully he doesn’t look as uncomfortable in Australia as he did in the Wanderers Test earlier this year.

Whilst I am happy to lavish praise upon Maximus Trottimus, there is concern about Kevin Pietersen in the run up to this series.  You have to go back to the tour of the West Indies to see the last time he scored a Test century, an astounding feat for a batsman renowned for his ability to meet bowling attacks head on.  Watching him charge limply down the track against Pakistan’s bowlers was painful to watch at times, as he was clearly struggling, but was so far down the track that the umpires were unable to put him out of his misery and declare him LBW.

Nonetheless, despite his batting slump, you have to give Pietersen credit for knowing how to make sure no one forgets about him.  Be it the infamous Twitter rant, branding some nobody called John Buchanan a ‘nobody’, and the kerfuffle about playing for Hampshire being impractical for a Chelsea boy like himself, there hasn’t been a dull moment this summer involving Pietersen off the field, an excellent diversion of attention away from his average as it slips slightly further below 50.

A stint in South African domestic cricket, involving work with old coach Graham Ford has left him feeling ‘fantastic’, possibly the missing cog in the gears which Pietersen switched through to produce those memorable innings in 2005.

Ian Bell’s summer proved to be fruitful, either side of a broken foot, that is.  Whether he will cope any better in Australia than in 2006/7 is something which will have to wait until the series begins.  Needless to say, with Shane Warne commentating on Sky Sports, you can bet your bottom dollar on the ‘Sherminator’ nickname being mentioned every time he plays and misses at a wide delivery.

Paul Collingwood is currently in danger of being out-nurdled by Maximus Trottimus, so it will necessitate a comedy England batting collapse in order to bring out the best in Collywobble.  Will also be sharing the duty of trundling dibbly dobbly bowler with Trott should Australia’s batsmen all find form at the same time and be 3,000,000/4 at lunch on the third day of the first Test.

I’ve already grown bored of this slow start to the blog, so I’ll simply say this about Eoin Morgan – stop top edging that reverse sweep of yours.


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