Swann – KP still important for England

Posted: Tuesday, January 28, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Graeme Swann has insisted England need to include Kevin Pietersen in their plans following rumours in the cricket press the batsman could be set to be dropped. Swann, who announced his retirement from the game following England’s third Test defeat in Perth, has made it clear Pietersen still has a big role to play for England in the "short-term" future.

In the wake of the 5-0 Ashes humbling this winter, Pietersen appears to have been singled out by some as being part of England’s problem rather than their solution – with Andy Flower reportedly even issuing a “him or me” ultimatum to the ECB.

While the Ashes was by no means a success for Pietersen, the batsman still finished as his team’s leading run-scorer during their dismal series Down Under – which will rank as one of KP’s least impressive achievements.

Despite his label as a trouble-maker, Pietersen has received the backing of a number of England players past and present, with Swann the latest to insist the enigmatic batsman is still crucial to any hopes England have of reclaiming their place among the world’s best Test sides.

"England's short-term future should include Pietersen. People seem keen to create a rift between Kevin and the rest of the team,” admitted Swann.

"Since being reintegrated in 2012, his attitude has been great. He was England's top run scorer in the Ashes and is one of the world's best players, so why get rid of him?"

With a decent break before the next Test series, the look of this England squad could dramatically change before the summer. While it remains to be seen whether Pietersen will still be part of England’s Test line-up against Sri Lanka in June, we know it would be hard to name someone who could bring what KP does to the team.

The screwed up English cricket

Posted: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 by Sanya Michelangelo in Labels: , , , , , , ,

I don't think the current display of England should be surprising anyone. And the ones who cited England as favourites for the Ashes definitely forgot which team they were talking about. I feel the biggest reasons for England's losses, always, are selection and the lack of desire for winning.

Moving on, I really like Finn's recent interview, in which he appeared confident.
It's tough for me to leave the tour, I'm upset I'm leaving the tour because I want to be helping England win games of cricket... but I do feel that it's best if I go home now.
I am nowhere near as far away as some people have been suggesting in the press. In terms of the technical things, they are not massive things.

I definitely believe the media is inaccurate on this occasion. I have hardly seen any English bowler bowl as consistently as Steven Finn. In his last one-day, Finn ended up with figures 2/43 with only Tredwell taking more wickets than him-3. Finn did not feature in any game on this tour and it has been heard that there is something wrong with his bowling action.

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I feel England need to support their players more, what with Jonathan Trott returning and Graeme Swann retiring. This is not the first time such incidents have happened in English cricket. We have often heard the England dressing room is not a happy place to be.

I'm also against the opinion that Kevin Pietersen's best is behind him, because the man is 33, has scored more than 8000 runs, his Test average in 2013 is close to 52. We have seen KP mature as the years have gone by and he definitely lends psychological advantage to the England team and power to the English batting line-up.

I hope KP will not take premature retirement like Graeme Swann and many other cricketers and I hope to see Steven Finn back in the team soon. On that note, this is me, Sanya signing off. Take care.

Too Early to Write Anderson off

Posted: Friday, January 17, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , , ,

After a summer of major disappointment for Jimmy Anderson down under, some cricket punters are questioning if the England pace bowler's best days are now behind him?

Anderson headed into the return Ashes series as still one of the most feared bowlers around but, like many of his international colleagues, he simply failed to deliver in the humiliating 5-0 whitewash and looked a pale shadow of his former self. Like England, his reputation has taken a battering that may take some time to recover from.

And, after he was not included in England's one-day side, some are suggesting Anderson is on the verge of retirement but it would be foolish to dismiss the Lancashire star after just one poor series and he can bounce back even if his bowling must improve significantly from what was on show in Australia.

Like several of his England team-mates, there are claims Anderson's time as an automatic first-choice in the side must now be challenged such was the shocking level of performance across the board in the Ashes. Plenty of pundits believe now is the time to rip up this ageing team and plan for the future, building a side around talented youngsters like Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Johnny Bairstow.

England's official line in 'resting' Anderson and Kevin Pietersen for the current ODI series and the T20 games that follow is that they wanted their key players suitably refreshed and fully fit for the upcoming West Indies tour but, as Graeme Swann's shock retirement in November proved, you cannot take anything for granted - especially with players who are the wrong side of 30.

Certainly Aussie legend Glenn McGrath is one influential former player that thinks Anderson is now on borrowed time.

"I don't know if he had a big workload going into this series or whether it's just because the ball hasn't swung and he doesn't know how to take wickets," he said.

"When it's swinging he's one of the best bowlers in the world, without a doubt. Time will tell where he's at when he goes back to England.

"If he can lift himself when he gets a Duke ball, which he loves bowling with, and bowl well then he's fine otherwise, who knows, he may be towards the end of his career."

Amid all the doom and gloom it is wise to remember that Anderson's record - aside from his most recent outings - speaks for itself and he is one of only four players to have taken over 300 Test wickets for England. Not so long ago he was rightly regarded as the best bowler in the world but he must bounce back and prove that the well-worn mantra of 'form being temporary, and class permenent' is applicable in his case.

But surely, at only 31, he still has time to rediscover his devastating best form and help rejuvenate a battered and bruised England side, despite what the likes of McGrath are suggesting.

Image by Nic Redhead.

Time for Sweeping Changes to Re-energise Abysmal England

Posted: Friday, January 3, 2014 by Laura in Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

England's latest Ashes calamity in Melbourne means the time has come for wholesale changes to be made to an ageing side that has simply had its day.

England headed into the current five-game series full of confidence that they could again successfully defend the Ashes they won on home soil against what was thought to be just an average Australia side supposedly with plenty of problems. But how wrong has that prediction been made to look?

It has been a completely one-sided series so far with England's camp being affected by injury (Stuart Broad), withdrawals (Jonathan Trott), an unexpected retirement (Graeme Swann), wretched form with both the bat and ball and some questionable selection and captaining issues.

All of these things have combined to leave the tourists staring at a totally-unexpected 5-0 whitewash in the Aussies favour and many Ashes pundits now are suggesting it is time to break up a team that has enjoyed significant success over the past decade.

All good things come to an end and it appears for a good chunk of what has been rightly a celebrated England side, it's now the end of the line - or it will be after the final Sydney Test.

Some will say that is a harsh judgement but so bad have all aspects of Andy Flower's side's performances been down under that only a rigorous examination of what has gone wrong preceding big changes is what's now required for England to rise again - and that may mean Flower himself is also given the axe.

The coach has said he will review his position at the end of the failed series and the murmurs are that he will either decide to quit or, more likely, be shown the door with England needing a new direction under a new leader. 

Flower has been brilliant for the country but sometimes freshening things up is what is required and there is a case to be made that, under Flower, he and the squad have now become stale.

Then there's the question of Cook. Undoubtedly, on his day, he is an excellent batsman but he appears too weighed down with captaining the side to perform at his best. There should still be a place for him in the side moving forward provided he regains his form, but it might be time to relieve him of the skipper's role to concentrate on his own game instead. 

Stuart Broad would be seen as the ideal candidate by cricket fans while Trott, if he recovers from illness, could also step up. Cook's tactical ability has been rightly questioned and found wanting in Australia while several well-placed pundits suggest he is not a man able to inspire and lead others when the going gets tough in the heat of an Ashes battle.

Both Flower and Cook have indicated, at the minute at least, that they do want to stay on in their key roles but their defiant stance may change if Australia do indeed go on to inflict an embarrassing 5-0 whitewash.

Sadly for the likes of Michael Carberry, a woefully out-of-form Matt Prior and even the wildly unpredictable Kevin Pietersen they may too be told their international careers are over with the ECB instead deciding to build a new side around the promising Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Stokes.

Whatever the ramifications end up being following the dismal tour, changes aplenty are needed to revive an England side that has so badly and so quickly lost its way.

Image by Peter Meade.