Tag Archives: England

Why An England Ashes Victory Matters

1. It obviously depends on what happens in South Africa, but for now at least, Australia is on the ropes. If England manage to pull off a series defeat, they will finally and forever be knocked off their perch, and the door will swing wide open on their mediocrity. 

2. It will erase the horrors of the last Ashes, which evidently still haunts the team. (I think Pietersen noted once how difficult it was to hear cries of  “Five-Oh” when he was in Australia before losing a rib to McGrath.) Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

The Drama of a Batting Collapse

Is there anything better to watch? Alex Massie captures the sentiment:

All sports are on good terms with humiliation, of course, but there’s an extra-special comic quality to cricketing collapses that makes them much more galling, yet engrossing, than calamitous mishaps in rugby or football or other sports. It’s the sense one gets of a virus being passed from one batsman to his successor who proves equally susceptible.

While definitely mysterious, the batting collapse is also a sure sign of a team’s weakness and lack of confidence. You can’t really imagine Australia suffering the same fate, and until recently, you would have expected it of India (see “World Cup, 1996, semi-final,” or “Fourth innings, Fifth day, Any Test”). Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

The England Batting Collapse

In case you missed it — or want to watch it over and over again — England’s shambolic performance is available on YouTube, at http://www.youtube.com/user/powen001.

This has my favorite wicket, the late-outswinging-yorker that cartwheeled Pietersen’s off-stump:

Tagged , , ,

The Best Of The Lot: So Long, Vaughan

In India, they say that the two most demanding (and most powerful) jobs belong to the Prime Minister and the captain of the cricket team. I don’t think it’s the same in England (not least because football rules the roost there), but Michael Vaughan’s resignation is nevertheless a huge (and kind of shattering) event.

Andrew Miller gives Vaughan the best send-off I’ve read here, and I’ve included a video of his announcement below. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,

Simon Hughes Knows What You’ll Do Next Summer

I’ve long harped on about how much I love Simon Hughes, Channel Five’s resident cricket analyst. He’s always so incisively clinical in his commentary, noting patterns and strategies and possible influential elements (cloud cover, weather changes, dryness, etc.). That doesn’t make him the best commentator; ideally, you want that flair and drama that only Boycott and Nichols can provide. But Hughes’s 2-minute breakdowns of the biggest factors in play — when he, for instance, succinctly explains what makes Monty Panesar so effective, or why swing bowling is so difficult to play — give the layman a window in this complicated, difficult sport.

So, as a tribute, watch Hughes predict Michael Vaughan’s wicket on the first day against South Africa and almost predict Kevin Pietersen’s initial madness. Again, it’s all about patterns: Vaughan’s got feet problems, and Pietersen is always so jittery at the start, hopping about madly until he knows the pitch is his. See below, at 1:00 and at 4:00.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Kevin Pietersen Goes Both Ways

Nothing about Kevin Pietersen is straightforward: of South African origin, he has become England’s best player (and, before Monty showed up, its much better off-spinner). When he first arrived on the scene, he oozed attack and aggression, which some commentators ascribed to a lack of “post-colonial guilt.” And even now, in his current mellowed, more “mature” phase, he still has the penchant to excite (Celeste or otherwise).

Take the rule-bending, switch-hitting reverse sweep (see below). The shot raised some hackles, even after declared legal. As Michael Holding pointed out, if that was legal, surely bowlers should be allowed to come around or over the wicket as they please, without prior announcement. Continue reading

Tagged , , , ,