Save English Cricket

From: Ian Canaway

Is it too late for English Cricket?

England are set for 5-0 white washing by Australia in the 2006/7 Ashes series, to be honest I don’t have much faith in the current squad and selection process.

Let’s be fair if you compare on paper each of England’s players, man-for-man with the Aussies, the English would be beaten hands down every time.

The only exception is Pietersen, who has competed at the same level, it’s just a shame the rest of the team hasn’t been able to step up to the plate. Kevin Pietersen has had some bad press in the UK from certain areas of the media, who have criticised him for being ‘selfish, self centred and not a team player’. Maybe, BUT, the only reason he has stood out like this is because he has been far and away England’s best player! FACT! This season in Test matches he’s averaged 53.72 and scored over 1300 runs! (Remember Geoff Boycott? He made over 100 centuries and was seen as one of the most selfish cricketers around, yet he helped win and save many Test matches) So let’s stop the Pietersen bashing.

Did England Prepare Properly?

Well this is a relevant question. Why?

As much as we keep hearing the same old rhetoric from the English coaching staff and players, this question need answering, did England prepare properly and focus 100% on getting ready for the Ashes?

Well I was thinking this same question a few days ago and was on Amazon at the time looking for books (as you do around Christmas), and lo and behold I came across some cricket books and items by current England players. Believe it or not, I found circa 6 books by current English players (and one by the Coach, Duncan Fletcher), all published in 2006, while England were supposed to be preparing for the Ashes!

Whether these guys wrote their own books or not I don’t know, but the fact of the matter is if you are writing/publishing a book, your attention is drawn away from other things (e.g. preparing for the Ashes) and focus is lost. You can see some of the cricket books here:

Andrew Strauss: Coming into Play – My Life in Test Cricket

Ashes Regained: The Coach’s Story

Crossing the Boundary: The Early Years in My Cricketing Life

Freddie Flintoff: My World

etc – just click ‘related items’ to see other books. Admittedly Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting have also written books. Ponting’s was published in 2005 and Warne is a genius so I can’t argue there.

England Haven’t Competed At The Same Level

Australia’s batsman outclassed England’s batsman in every aspect, there have been only a few English innings worthy of mention, Collingwoods double century, Cooks century and some excellent innings from Pietersen. Despite these efforts, England failed to put together consistent partnerships in both innings of each test match.

England’s bowlers lacked consistency, accuracy and never seemed to really trouble Australia’s batsman. I don’t know about you but when I watch Shane Warne bowl I’m always on the edge of my seat, just waiting for the batsman to get out, he’s that good! I can’t say I have felt the same about any of the English bowlers. The preparation of the England’s bowlers must have been poor, Harmison, only started to bowl well in the 4th Test, in comparison to Clark and McGrath who were excellent from day 1! Mahmood was only bowled for 17 overs in the 3rd Test; so what does that say about the Flintoff’s confidence in him? If he wasn’t up to the task why was he picked?

Another thing to ponder is Fletchers team selections. It seemed at the start of the series he was picking players to avoid defeat and perhaps being over conservative, instead of taking a chance. For example the selection of Giles for the first Test. Giles hadn’t been playing much and had been out injured most of the year (net practice only gets you so far) and was selected ahead of Panesar, who has since proved he is good enough for the Test arena taking 8 wickets in his first match.

The bottom line is that in each match, Australia have had players who have stepped up to the mark whether they were batsmen or bowlers and that made the difference. They have players who believe in themselves and believe they can take control of a game and they DO and they WIN.

What do you think?

Surely it’s time to start thinking about the future of English cricket, where will England go following the Ashes? What can be changed and improved on to get the English players up to the same level as the Aussies?

Post your comments below…

All the best,

Ian Canaway

P.S. Now go play some cricket!

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Categories : News, Opinion


  1. Shrinjay Khandel says:

    I think England is not playing to their potential. First of all : There is no great batsman in their side. All are average and Kevin is slightly above that block. Every team has one, example : Sachin, Lara, Kallis, Ponting, Fleming, Inzamam. These batsman are realible and have the capacity to hold the innings togeather. I don’t see such batsman in their side.

    Secondly, regarding bowling attack England did well in the last Ashes and displayed reverse swing which troubled Australian batsman. Harmison showed a lot of promise when he first appeared, after that he has declined.

    Thirdly, England rely heavily on Flintoff and Kevin, if Freddie doesn’t show some spirit, only Kevin is left.

    Fourthly, team doctor of their side needs to be changed, see how much time he took in healing their previous captain who won Ashes for England.

    Fifthly, Poor selections , Panesar was dropped in First test and also he was not brought India for Champions Trophy where he has performed so well.

    They aren’t so poor in Tests, only in this Ashes series they failed. God knows what they do in ODI’s, they r ranked 7th.

  2. Glenn Millar says:

    Hi Ian,
    What can be done to save English cricket? I think it has to start with the young kids. I have 2 sons (aged 9 and 13) who both play, for their club and also representative cricket for their Association. Here in Sydney, boys play on Saturday morning for their club. They start with “Have A Go” which is for 5-8 year olds and progress to Under 8 and up. In our Association, there are 15 clubs and some have 2-3 teams in each age group. In August each year, each club sends their best in each age group (from Under 10 to Under 16) to try out for the representative team, of which 12 boys are picked in each age group. They then play 5 games against other Associations and the top 4 teams play semis. At the end of each representative season, each Association (of which there are 14) then has to pick their best 6 players from Under 13 to Under 16 and they try out to make up the Emerging Blues team (which is a junior State competition). Our older son made it in Under 13 this season and they played their games on turf (which they don’t usually get to do here in junior cricket – all on synthetic wickets). From around 15, they can play Green Shield if they are good enough to be invited to try out and then into grade cricket.
    My older son played representative cricket with a boy whose father played for Surrey some time back (Pip Miller) and they had just moved to Australia. Pip had never seen anything like representative cricket in England and did nothing but talk about how good it was and the high level of cricket being played.
    England needs to start with the kids and develop those that are good enough to go further and keep them interested once they hit the teenage years. Australia has some really good 13-19 year old boys coming through and if they stay focused and continue you will hear about them some day. You have some good younger players in your team who will only improve. I think after the Champions Trophy that England should have come straight to Australia and kept playing instead of going home for a “rest”.
    Anyway, we are going to day 1 of the Ashes tomorrow and can’t wait to see Warne, McGrath and probably Langer in their last test match. I think the atmosphere will be great.
    Glenn Millar
    Sydney, Australia

  3. Jeff Monin says:

    The only way the English team can compete with the Australian team ,if they dropped 9 of the 11,leave Petterson and Hoggard and put in 9 Australian players,they might have a better chance!!!!!

  4. Clive Bryant says:

    Being part-way through Boycott’s autobiography, it is clear that beaurocracy is an endemic problem in cricket at the highest level. I suspect that to be the case today in 2007. I’m over in Australia now (it’s New Years Day and I’m off to the SCG for day one and two before flying home to the UK) and happened to hear a radio interview with John Buchanan which showed a stark contrast to our own Mr Fletcher. John gets on with the job and tactically prepares the whole squad over a period of months/years. Sure, Australia have some wonderful and hard to replace players – however you only need to look at the damage that was inflicted upon us by Stuart Clarke (remember that he nearly didn’t make the team in this series) to see the depth of squad at their disposal. That depth of squad doesn’t happen easily; it takes nurturing – and I don’t see that same nurturing in the UK. Australia are a cricket machine and their consistent results over the years bears testimony to that approach. Until we can create the same preparation grounding and remove the higher-level politics we will always be second place.. or third…or fourth…

  5. David Virgo says:

    I wouldn’t be too hard on the English cricketers. I admit they have been out classed this series however from an Aussies point of view they have had their moments. They just haven’t held it for long periods.

    The aussies preperation was militant. They went into the bush with SAS personell pushing them to the limit. Eating a meager breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a humble dinner. To say the aussies were hungry for this is an understatement.

    Also the key personell missing from the England side shouldn’t be discounted also. Jones is a very good bowler that would of been very handy out here. Flintoff wasn’t right and the loss of Trescothic didn’t help either.

  6. Adnan says:

    Well, I got a lot to say about English Cricket. I being a pakistani had never liked my home team because the way they play against Australia or in England in 2006. But, I really am so much disappointed about England the way they played against Australia in 2006/07 Ashes. It was the worst ever feelings I got after watching so much cricket of mine and other countries in all my life. I really feel very pitty for them and the coach himself is like “guys you have come to (PLAY) so lets play but not WIN at all, dont even give your opponent some task. You might hurt their feelings.” Man.. too bad I watched this Ashes series, I was celebrating like anything the moment England won the last one against Australia, Those were the feelings I cannot express, not even compared with the Muhammad Yousaf’s individual world record although he is my favourite player in Pakistani cricket team.

    Future of England cricket is LOST, I dont see this legendary country of Cricket history winning any matches by working hard but by luck.

  7. Mike Coultharde-Steer says:

    I think it is important not for us to have too much of a kneep-jerk reaction. Clearly some important mistakes were made, the two most important, in my view, were letting Troy Cooley go (stupidity of the first order), and keeping Flintoff as captain. However, I believe we do have some truly world-class players in the squad, but that they have been let down by some poor management. They also let themselves down by getting carried away with the media frenzy (albeit a difficult thing not to do) and losing sight of the most important things.

    What I don’t think will help is for Fletcher to be hounded into resigning, or being sacked. Let’s not forget that a mere 15 months ago, the ashes saw the culmination of one of the most successful runs in English test cricket history under the guidance of Duncan Fletcher.

    So where next? Well, I cast my mind back to the great series of ’81, and taking that for a precedent, I think if Vaughan is anywhere near fit, he should be captain again. Back then, the same mistake had been made in appointing Botham as skipper, and it destroyed his form. Mike Brearly was urgently recalled, although he probably would never have got a place merely on the strength of his batting. The weight was lifted from Beefy’s shoulders, and England had their superman back. OK, one player may not make a side, but when they are as talismanic as Botham or Flintoff, it may just be what it takes.

  8. Andrew Hunter says:

    I was at the Gabba and from day one you could tell the Aussie’s were on a mission – or maybe even a crusade. A mission that they had prepared for, for over 12 months and not just to win but to smash the usurper.

    Quite simply I don’t think any team from anywhere in the world in the last 20 years could match with this Aussie team in their current state of mind in this series. It’s not just the line up, it’s also the passion and the obvious team spirit. I was never a fan of Ponting for captain – but hats off to him – he has proven his leadership as well as cricketing credentials.

    So don’t be too hard on Freddie and his men, they just never had a chance. But remember the Aussie’s won’t always have their current motivation or their amazing armoury of attacking batsmen and bowlers. But while we do – COME ON ON AUSSIE COME ON :)

  9. Virendersingh Berthwal says:


    The body language of the England players was of low confidence.Absence of Simon Jones,Michael Vaughan was a blow.Lethargic blowing,bad batting and exclusion of Monty in the First & second Test were the factors that let them down.
    On the other hand;aussie’s had all the best bowlers- Mcgrath,Warne,Lee lin-up for attack,Ponting is in amazing form.The middle-order hussey,symonds,clark are also in form.
    The batting has to be very deep and bowling attack very sharp alongwith the backing of good and aggressive fielding.
    Please let the english players learn to play spin attack;there feets against warne’s bowling was trembling and shaky.

    One important thing which was notice was that the Aussie were hungry & wild to win back the Ashes;were as the English players were complacent.
    Let’s hope the future for the England team is bright.

    Wishing you all a “HAPPY NEW YEAR”.

    Thanks & Regards,

  10. peter jackson says:

    Hi all
    poor technique in batting and bowling were a major contributing factor to Englands demise. I can’t believe that most of Englands batsmen have not heard about playing through the narrow ‘V’ when playing yourself in, especially in test cricket. The first mistake was making Freddie Flintoff captain. Just because you think that a certain player is the best in the squad you don’t make him captain. He has enough on his plate with batting and bowling without thinking about batting orders and field placings and sorting out situations as they arise.
    Andrew Strauss has proved to be a useful, thoughtful and knowledgeable skipper in the recent past and should have been given the job and leave Freddie to concentrate on what he is good at. Our bowlers in the main have poor techniques. Jimmy Anderson looks at the ground by his feet almost whilst delivering the ball, yes you should look at the ground, but at a spot on the wicket that you are aiming to pitch the ball. For me Harmison is a manufactured bowler who bowls open chested and mostly with just his arm and not his body. Fletcher selected a team to play scared cricket in the first two tests by playing a man who had not played for a year, and a bowler who had been a great success against Pakistan was left out. But the only way back is through good basic techniques, batting ( stand still when the bowler appoaches, walking about the crease does not help you get in line every ball, if you want to be in line take the proper guard, and with bowling think about the ball you are going to bowl next while you walk back to your bowling mark and concentrate on the job at hand ). These players won the ashes last year, they have not suddenly become bad players overnight, batsmen do not get out with good shots, a lot of players got out with bad shot selection and some got to excellent bowling. If you watch the Aussie quick bowlers they all have good tight high actions and no arms flying about and therefore can bowl tight lines. I think England need to make Bell an opening bat mainly because he is right handed, two left handed openers makes it easy for the bowlers to settle on a particular line of attack, they would have to keep adjusting when a run was scored by at a couple of feet or so. England, you need a lot of practice……….QUALITY PRACTICE……hear endeth the lesson

    PS. I don’t think the remarks made about Pieterson can be solely attributed to the press, I think the Aussie coach made them without any facts to back them up. This is the bloke who fell out with members of his own team when they were here last year, don’t things change when your’e having success…….Peter

  11. Ron Wimmer says:

    It’s a damn shame the English haven’t been competative. Being an Aussie, the only interest I have at the moment is; which Aussie will make the next tonne, and how many wickets will McGrath and Warne get before they retire.

  12. Tom says:

    Hi all

    I think this goes much further than cricket, it is the English Celeb Status that comes from winning that is manly to blame look at other sports rugby for example. We do well to win we then praise the team (as it should be) but then we cross the line where sportsman become celebs this gets them big headed, they are to busy righting books, doing tv appearances ect. 2 years before the ashes England played great and then were not pushed across the line, a big profile series win in the ashes and since then we have played poorly with a very few exceptions. The also we expect to lose, the aussies would not dare to stay in Austraila if they had lost 5-0.. When we win its a shock, loosing is to normal.

    Reasons why we lost the ashes 5-0

    - unfit players playing (Treso should not of flown got back into county game first, Flintoff should not be bowling)
    - Poor low order batting, they have lost the grit
    - Changing around with team and bat orders
    - Poor Coaching, bat technique
    - Changing batsman natural game (Flintoff to defensive, Hoggard best night watchman playing shots, bring back his block just two examples)
    - complicated bowling plan, as leaked to complex bowl line and lengh
    - poor captaincy flintoff can not bat bowl and be captain
    - lack of squad they cant replace players like Vaughan, S.Jones, Trescothick, and Hoggard in last test
    - Sticking with players that have proved they are not test class like Mamdood fast bowling that many full tosses is shocking, should not be in squad.
    - Lack of edge don’t have the determination to win as they won last ashes
    - lack of matches in 2005 they had already had 2 full matches against Bangladesh, this tour just 3 matches 1 one dayer 2 day tour matches
    - two day tour matches are pointless never a result possiable

    There is many more reasons but if they get some good cricket at county level, get out of the papers, get a solid team selection decided, i am sure they can get back from this.

  13. Biplob says:

    Those days has gone to think that the Cricket is the game of gentleman with thier gentlemanship. you are really currect on your comments- about Peterson, Cricket is now totally a technical game.
    Remember – Its a game of indivudual
    – Its a game of group
    Its a contradiction, but how you can mix this contradiction- ‘individuality on the group’ flow is the matter of considaration. not to make people gentle and to feel the feeling of ‘team play’ but to produce the result is the primary point in take in hand.
    So selection and in the same time planing and design is more important. I think from both view England was far more behind than Australia.

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

  14. Lars Hansson says:

    Hi Ian
    I do agree with you Ian.
    I Supprted Freddie when heard on the telly and radio that he should be captain during the ashes, and he did a very good job, however I think that he is going to have more time to develope his skill as a captain.
    When I am writing this, so is Micheal V. is back as a captain in the twenty /twenty.
    It was another disaster for England, their preformace can´t be contemplated at all.
    I think that they must vary the bowling tactics more than they have done in the past and go back to basic.
    Monty must practice batting more,if he should play test matches again
    The gentlemen on the England side have lost their spark , however it will hopefully come back to them and win the ashes back to the country who invented cricket.

  15. [...] With the world cup fast approaching is there any hope for England? Two more heavy defeats for England and with Pietersen out of action with a fractured rib until the world cup, bad news has quickly turned to awful news! [...]

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