Tag Archives: The Ashes

Stuart Broad LIVE on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross – Highlights

If our young Stuart Broad, angelic faced Premier All-Rounder™, is now a national treasure, with MBE’s and Gillette (the best a man can get?) adverts just around the corner apparently, he should, no must!, master the skill of the chat show.

Jonathan ‘Woss’ Ross is his adversary tonight, will he mock his girly looks (like The Leading Edge cruelly does)?  Joke about that time he went mental at Bopara for misfielding off his bowling and went all “Rav!  Rav!  Rav!”?  How many times will he mention Flintoff?  And what about his old man Chris?  Get your bingo boards out.

23:06 – The man is walking out!  He’s walking out!  Yes!  To the national anthem and confetti.  Even the slightly offensive and massively unfynny ‘4 Poofs and a Piano’ are standing in salute.  Wonderful.

23:07 – First mention of Chris Broad.  Why?  Boooring.  “I never got pushed or forced by my Dad to play cricket”.  By all accounts it was his Mother who did all the ‘work’, i.e. throw downs and what not.

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Duncan Fletcher’s Guardian B-Sides: “Where now for England?”

England should look to Mahmood, Rashid, Brsenan to conquer all

Posted by Duncan Fletcher, Wednesday 19th August

England did really well.  Well done.  Winning the Ashes is never easy.  People keep asking me if this team is as good as my team in 2005.  Indeed, I occasionally offer them an answer.  The key to England’s success was Andrew Strauss, who is a very good player.  He scored 474 runs, which really is a lot of runs. An interesting statistic is that he scored 26 more runs than Michael Clarke, who is a very good player. People keep asking me if I should have made him captain for the 2006/07 Ashes.  However, I know that I always make the right decisions, and always stick to them, mainly because they are often right.

Where now for England? How do you replace Andrew Flintoff? The trip to South Africa will be very tricky, and England need the best three-dimensional young unproven cricketers they can find.  In the last two Tests Broad was exceptional and if anything proves that my old mantra that young, rounded, 3 dimensional cricketers are a good idea, is correct. On that basis, England must get Sajid Mahmood back in the side. I know I talk about Saj a lot, but he really is one of the most intelligent, rounded and brilliant all-rounders I have ever worked with. He could fill Flintoff’s boots.

An example of his intelligent bowling was in an ODI a number of years ago. Saj used his brain brilliantly, sending down 5 of his marvellous slower balls, bamboozling the batsman into only scoring 9 runs off the over, a good economy rate for Saj. Plus of course, he has pace. Pace is the single most important thing a bowler can ever have, and Saj has plenty.

I will never forget the brilliant match-winning 22* he scored against South Africa in 2006. It is probably up there as one of the best lower order batting displays in one day cricket history, but often gets overlooked. I believe that, as a genuine all-rounder, he could be slot into the no. 7 slot, allowing Broad to bat 8, and Swann 9.

I also think that Adil Rashid and Tim Bresnan must tour.  The case for Rashid is obvious, so I will not go over it again.  Bresnan is one of those players whose both his bowling nor batting are quite Test standard, but he offers an overall three-dimensional package that can boost the middle order.

South Africa will be very tough opposition, and England must play to their best to win.  They must also field their best side, and by playing lots of all-round cricketers with multiple skills it could be done.

Duncan Fletcher is the former coach of the England cricket team, who also writes for the Guardian. This column is a selection of his articles that, sadly, were not deemed publishable quality by The Guardian.

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England Player Ratings – Oh yes.

Well, well, well,  England won the Ashes.  Any team that has Peter Siddle’s pathetic excuse for facial hair in them is always going to lose as far as I’m concerned.  Easy.  Marcus North, the most English-like Australian to ever play for Australia, the man who scores century in easy circumstances but when it comes down to it goes for a slog and gets stumped, with bowling about as effective as Owais Shah, is my fellow scapegoat.  Anyway, it’s that time: ratings.  England first, obviously, because they’re … better.

Oh, and because doing rating is so cliched, yet so damn good, The Leading Edge will offer comments in a unique Haiku form.  Expect the Guardian to rip us off next series.

Andrew ‘Andy’ Strauss 474 runs @ 53
What a man, What a
Man! A cut, a nudge to square.
Captain hero!  Runs too.
9/10 (would have got 10 if he’d scored a couple more centuries)

Alistair ‘Chefy’ Cook 222 runs @ 25
Sort of looked in form,
Alas, lost his off-stump.  Where?
Blowin’ in the wind.
4/10 (fielded well, and got us off to a flyer at Lords)

Ravi ‘Hit ‘n Miss’ Bopara 105 runs @ 15
Oh Ravi, Oh Rav!
Rav, you used to be alright,
What happened? Crash, burn.
1/10 (How could he have possibly been worse!?)

Ian ‘Tinker’ Bell 140 runs @ 28
My question to you:
Score a century at 3?
Will it ever come?
5/10 (Bleurgh, I love our Ronald, but he’s got to go)

Kevin ‘KP’ Pietersen 153 runs @ 38
Oh, your poor ankle!
Oh, how do you sleep at night?
Dreaming of bad sweeps?
5/10 (Remembered only for his sweep and his heel, won without him, God forbid)

Paul ‘MBE’ Collingwood 250 runs @ 28, 1 wicked @ 76
Saved us at Cardiff,
But really you are complete
Shit.  Please go away.
5/10 (Bare minimum that could be expected, probably will be culled sooner rather than later)

Ian ‘Jonathan’ Trott 160 runs @ 80
Where is Robert Key?
It’s not ‘Where’s Wally?’  When we
have our new Trotty.
10/10 (Compare to Bopara: What more could you ask for?!)

Matt ‘Wicketkeeper’ Prior 261 runs @ 33, 11 catches and 1 stumping
Stump the night away!
Slog the damn Aussies away!
Keeps Haddin at bay…?
7/10 (Could have done with more runs from six, but kept admirably)

Andrew ‘Frederick’ Flintoff 200 runs @ 33, 8 wickets @ (look away now…) 52
Why are you so broke?
One good spell with one good throw?
Yet we love you so.
6/10 (As the Haiku so wonderfully points out: one good spell and one good throw out was slightly underwhelming)

Stuart ‘New Freddy (…Barney Rubble?)’ Broad 234 runs @ 29, 18 wickets @ 30
Yeah, yeah, like I said,
You’re pretty good, but my gosh,
don’t you just know it?
7/10 (Might have won us the Ashes, but no excuse for 3 games of complete dross with the ball)

Graeme ‘Massive Chin’ Swann 294 runs @ 36, 14 wickets @ 41
Funny runs, big chin.
Always bowlin’ with a grin,
You bowled ala fin.
7/10 (4th in both batting and bowling averages.  Who would have predicted that?)

James ‘Jimmy’ Anderson 12 wickets @ 45
Hola, King of Swing.
King for a day, oh alas,
where is the ‘Plan B’?
When ball swings: 10/10.  All other times: 2/10 (‘Nuff said.)

Monty ‘Monty’ Panesar 1 wicket @ 115
Oh Turbanator!
Why do you bowl like a bore?
When will you come back?
2/10 (Bowled terribly on a ‘spinning pitch’, but did get one of the best 7 not out’s ever)

Graeme ‘Funny Headline’ Onions 10 wickets @ 30
Lily Allen thinks
he’s so cool. When in S.A.
he will rule the roost
7/10 (He did pretty good really, was very consistent)

Steve ‘Uh oh!’ Harmison 5 wickets @ 33
3 wickets on the
last afternoon, not enough.
Shit, please go away.
5/10 (Literally completely average. Best contribution was probably at Worcester when he exposed Hughes to the short ball)

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The Leading Edge picks the next England XI

Yes, we won the Ashes, something we all kinda thought would happen after Lord’s, then thought would never happen after Headingley then definitely thought should happen after Stuart Broad.

But thanks to the ECB’s decision to exclude the 7 million or so viewers who don’t fancy giving their dollars to Sky there is no call for the nation to celebrate as one. So The Leading Edge will accommodate its necessarily niche audience by looking to the future. So here’s one half of The Leading Edge’s view of what the team should look like for South Africa:

1. Strauss. Of course… Man of the series and the only batsman who the nation really trusts.

2. Key. Its tempting to say Denly, a part of me even fancied Luke Wright, or screw it, even Lord Rory Hamilton-Brown, to make the move. After all Watson proved that you don’t need to be an opening batsman to open the batting. But Key’s the man. He’s done it before and should be solid enough if a little fat.

3. ….which of course opens the door for Cook at 3. He’s good enough to play at test level as the rankings show. Taking the pressure off him could help him immeasurably.

4. KP. Love him or hate him, England are just better with the NOTW hack on the teamsheet. He has that Iron Will to win lacking in the middle order and is just fun to watch.

5. Bell. Although Trott is in consideration, we should not forget Bell’s experience as a No. 5 where his average is much higher. Lest we forget that Bell top scored in the first innings at the Oval when England were on the rack!

6. Prior. Good with the gloves and can counter attack well with….

7. ….Broad. A genuine all rounder who will put on runs with the tail. Does anyone still doubt him as a bowler?

8. Swann. Let’s just forget about Panesar shall we, Swann’s our man even if he was a tad erratic against the Aussies.

9. Anderson. Not always effective but when it swings he’s the best in the world.

10. Harmison. Controversial we know, but what other England bowler is hammering on the door to be Straussies ‘fast and nasty’. Tell Tremlett and Plunkett to take some more wickets and stay fit, but until then its Steve all the way.

11. Onions. As Glenn McGrath used to tell young bowlers, ‘to be great you’ve just got to bowl 99/100 deliveries on off stump.’ Onions may not be the metronome but he’s got the most control in the England attack.

That’s that, not the most inspiring selection I know, but it kept me up all last night as I mused on what a force England would become in the future.

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Shane Warne’s Legspinning masterclass – Highlights

Hold the ball like this I guess?

Hold the ball like this I guess?

Some of the most exciting, exhilirating televised sport involving Englishmen and Ozzies is on today.  No, no, no, not ‘the Ashes, but ‘Shane Warne’s bowling masterclass’, LIVE during the lunch break.  Oh boy!  Shane Warne, the Sheikh of Tweak, the, er, best wrist-spinner of all time, the American Pie-loving beach bum, is going to be giving a leg-spinning masterclass to two young English legspinners, Max Waller and Will Beer, both of whom played Twenty20 Finals Day.  The Leading Edge is offering LIVE blogging for this momentous occasion (blogging the actual game is so cricinfo).

The anticipation is utterly murdering me, and it’s made that little bit sweeter because of the participation of Sussex’s own Will Beer, who, of course, is an amazing prospect.  More importantly, will the mystique of leg spin finally be unravelled, live on TV?  Hey, it could happen…

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A little reminder from The Leading Edge

Young Stuart Broad’s heroics yesterday were, indeed, fantastic.  The ‘problem’ of Broad now solved?  Yet this blog must take you back a week or so, when the ‘problem’ was ‘solved’ by your humble writers, an entire 3 days before his feat.  We shall wallow in self-righteousness.

Click here to read the blog ‘How to solve a problem like Broad?’

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Ian Ronald Bell MBE’s Ashes Tour Diary – Fifth Test, First Day

bellNumber 3: The Mistress I so Lament; So close, yet so far

Posted by Ian Bell, Thursday 20th August

“If I should meet thee After long years, How should I greet thee? – With silence and tears” – Lord Byron

This prose, this stunning eloquent prose, an excerpt from Lord Byron’s incomparable ‘When We Two Parted’, seemed exceptionally apt as I rekindled my squalid affair with that most buxom of mistresses: the England no. 3 spot.  Never has your humble narrator, I. R.,  ever scored a sacred three-figure tally.  I lament.

“Butterflies in the stomach” would perhaps be the most gargantuan of underestimations: indeed; the nerves set upon like one thousand of God’s most beautiful butterflies, haunting my insides with their flaunting fluttering wings, tickling the inner most sanctum of my stomach.

I believe some of these vain monsters even bore the wicked face of that beast, MG Johnson.

So, no. 3, my most wicked of lovers, how should I greet thee?  Indeed, it was with silence!  It was with tears!  A wicked silence to stun all those that bowl; no tears of salty water, these tears were filled with pure anger!  Tears crammed with the wrath of I. R. Bell!

Needless to say, with Byron’s words a-ringing true around my ears, and with my eyes gently weeping, I knew this would be it: I. R. would tame this damned mistress of no. 3.  Batting started as rocky as the rockiest boats in the most of rockiest seas, MG Johnson, the beast who be, snarling in with the most unsporting of intents: to knock the head off of this very I. R. Bell.
Plain sailing from there however, as 72 of the most sumptuous I. R. Bell runs were scored all round.  If this form continues, Warne will be soon calling me the ‘scorerunsinator’, or something equally witty.

Let us not dwell on that most of futile of futile dismissals, all but my round cranium now knows is that the second innings will have to be the time I finally tame the mistress with a century.  Bring it on.

Ian Ronald Bell MBE is an England Test cricketer, you can follow his twitter here.  The fee from this column has been donated to charity.

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