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Sight Screen

Monday, July 11, 2005

The Urn -- July 11 edition

Mike Selvey, in the Guardian, moans one ODI too many:
Lord's was suffering from overindulgence yesterday, dyspeptic on a surfeit of one-day cricket. Just over a week ago, in gloomier and considerably more challenging conditions for batsmen, England and Australia fought themselves to an impasse in one of the finest roller-coaster matches of them all. And now this, a series too many, which has a stale feeling to it as if it has been left on the shelf too long.

The Lord's game -- deemed largely irrelevant to the real contest coming up -- seems though to have forced commentators to take a slightly more critical look at Kevin Pietersen than has been the norm thus far. KP, Selvey says, is a bit of a fidget at the batting crease, and
Such hyperactivity, if it translates into an urgency to score too freely too early, will not stand him in good stead against quality bowlers in Test matches. Yesterday's attempted drive was wild, away from his body and with a bottom hand punching in, his natural instinct still to work the on side irrespective of the line of the ball. He has no doubt that he can adapt his game according to the needs, but should he make the squad for the first Test he and Duncan Fletcher will have some serious talking to do.

Angus Fraser, in the Independent, also suggests KP didn't do too much to impress the selectors ahead of the Ashes, and now has only the one game tomorrow, at the Oval, to make his case.
On another note, there's the form of England skipper Michael Vaughan -- not hotly debated so far, coz conventional wisdom seems to be that he is not too hot in the shorter version of the game anyways, so his average run in the Natwest games thus far is par for the course. Fraser looks at it from a different angle:
Before each Test series McGrath publicly states which members of the opposition he will target. Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara have been on his hit list, and before this tour he identified Strauss and Vaughan as the batsmen in his sights.
The England captain won this tussle at Headingley last Thursday, when he scored a blistering 59, but in the two games at Lord's - the venue of the first Test - McGrath has dismissed him cheaply. Yesterday he was adjudged leg before when he left a nip-backer from the fast bowler.

In the Telegraph match report, Derek Pringle -- like others before him -- takes a long at this overlong diet of ODIs:
Despite the full house, England played like men on a treadmill, which is essentially what this one-day marathon has become. The introduction of central contracts was brought in to negate the deleterious effects of county cricket and its wearying travel, and pretty successful they have proved. Yet if Michael Vaughan's team now lose their edge due to the excessive amounts of one-day cricket, and with it the momentum enjoyed over their early exchanges with Australia, the England and Wales Cricket Board must share the blame.

Pringle, like others, also takes a closer look at Pietersen -- interesting how that bottom hand of KP's, which was my first negative point about the batsman, is increasingly getting underlined now that the first flush of his one big innings this series has worn off:
With England's top order promptly dissembled, there was another chance for Kevin Pietersen to display his Test credentials and for him to bat again with Flintoff, a partnership that has so far proved fleeting. Yet neither opportunity was taken after the dominant right hand that informs most of his batting strokes caused him to chop a cover drive off Lee on to his stumps.

Buchanan has focussed on the problems of the England top order batting. Pringle suggests England might have a little problem in the bowling department as well:
Vaughan's over-reliance on the pair is becoming apparent and while they have often raised themselves for the challenge, they could not manage it yesterday, something Australia will have noted with the Ashes about to start.

Darren Gough's waning powers is also the subject of this piece by Mike Selvey:
There was a time yesterday, in the midst of an England collapse, that a good argument could be advanced for substituting Darren Gough before he had even bowled a ball....
Had Gough been withdrawn it might have been to his benefit because by staying on he just encouraged the notion of a little red-faced fast bowler huffing and puffing into a little red sunset.

Same game, different perspective -- while the England press focussed on their team's top order woes and Ponting's return to form, the Aussie side looks hard at Jason Gillespie, who had another off day at Lord's Sunday. Chloe Sattlau's match report in fact leads with that point:
The pressure on Jason Gillespie, on the end of a mighty onslaught from Andrew Flintoff at Lord's, continues to mount as the South Australian fast bowler struggles for form and wickets ahead of the Ashes.
Flintoff gave an ominous glimpse of the destruction of which he is capable by hitting his biggest score of the summer so far, 87, and saving his most aggressive strokes for the out-of-sorts Gillespie, who took 0-42 from seven overs.

John Pierek, in the Sydney-based tabloid Daily Telegraph, is even harsher. In a story headlined Time to sack Dizzy, Pierek quotes former Aussie quick Geoff Lawson:
"His run-up doesn't have any energy in it, he is not accelerating, he's decelerating, he is lacking in confidence," Lawson said.
"I would be picking Kasprowicz. He was much better at Lord's, more carry, more life, worrying the batsmen more – they are the things you look at.
"This nonsense about Gillespie being unlucky: he has not been unlucky. He is not beating the bat much at all, he is bowling inconsistently."

Sattlau, in the Age, meanwhile suggests that England has already stripped Australia of its aura, ahead of the Ashes -- and cites fighting words from Andy Strauss to underline her point:
"There has been a lot of talk previously about this aura that Australian sides have had. I haven't really played enough against them to understand that aura but certainly we don't feel there is an aura there now," said Strauss, who was itching for the first Test to start as the one-day phase of the summer meandered into its second-last match at Lord's yesterday.
"So if that means we have undermined them, then maybe we have. Not a lot of the guys in this team have played a lot of cricket against them, so we are just treating it like any other game against any other nation, really."

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) features Shane Warne's mea culpa -- a signed column that, as far as I know, is the first Warne has spoken of his marital meltdown.
PLENTY has been said about my private life in the last few weeks. It is regrettable that such a challenging personal period has become so public.
Personally, I do not believe it is in the best interests of my wife, kids, family, Hampshire and Aussie teammates to discuss these matters publicly.
However, there are a couple of things I would like to say.
I do take responsibility for Simone and my separation.
But the reasons behind it will remain private.

Mark Nicholas, elsewhere, suggests that Warne's marital strife will have little if any impact on his bowling in the Ashes:
The great thing about these monstrously gifted fellows, who are as colourful off the field as on it, is their unshakable self-belief. We had an English version ourselves once, a beefy chap who dominated Test matches and tabloids to equal effect. Back then Botham thought he was indestructible, much as Warne does now, and found the field of play to be his place of security and respite. This is the same for Warne, for when he crosses that line none of the baggage goes with him....
Even to begin to think that the recent shambles in his private life will affect Warne's cricket is to miss the point completely. That shambles will concentrate his mind absolutely. The Ashes will be an escape route. A chance to put the madness and its consequences aside, and to remind his audience of the reason for their fascination in the first place. Expect Warne to be at his best at Lord's on July 21. Hampshire say he is back bowling the wrong 'un again. As well as the flipper, the slider, the top-spinner and those various leggies with which he beguiles us all.

PS: Be away for a couple of hours... see you guys later in my evening.

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