Wednesday, 29 September 2010


So our England Ashes team have returned from their trip away. Some have called it boot-camp, others team-building, and worryingly, the ECB Website calls it a bonding exercise.

The camp, which was held in Bavaria close to Nuremburg, involved players undertaking mental and physical challenges designed to better prepare them for the challenges of playing international cricket.

As well as overcoming a series of physical challenges, the team also learned more about leadership, how to make difficult decisions under pressure and the factors that make teams successful.

Their visit concluded earlier today with a trip to the memorial site at Dachau, the first of Hitler’s concentration camps where more than 40,000 people died during the 12 years of its existence from 1933-1945

By all accounts the players got to know each other better, had a bit of team-building, a bit of a laugh, and basically had a week away from cricket which will help the squad bond.

Some people (mainly "old school" ex-cricketers) have been bad-mouthing the boot-camp, but I honestly see no disadvantages to the trip. The players will have become closer both as people and as team-mates, and that can only be good. While abseiling or hiking may not help while facing Bollinger or Johnson, it will help team-spirit on a trip where famously English sides have fallen out. It's all about being totally prepared, an element which was clearly lacking in England's terrible 2006/7 defence of the urn. The fact that Tredwell, Kieswetter and Shahzad went out also shows that England see them as part of the "squad at large" even if they didn't make it into the Ashes 16. But that's by the by.

Here's the real reason for this post - some pictures of boot-camp.

Steve Finn v Monty Panesar? Hardly seems a fair fight...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Email The Podcast!

Like the Short Midwicket Podcast? Want to be read out on air? Want to tell a funny or interesting story, or have something answered?

Then email in to the Short Midwicket Podcast!

If you want to get in touch, send your anecdotes, gripes, moans or queries to and you could be read out on air!

If you have a blog (or something else) you want to plug, leave it on the end and it will be read out on air!

Thanks (and I'm not just trying to fill time now the English season's finished...),


Monday, 27 September 2010

Podcast - Eoin Morgan's Chest Hair

Download the latest podcast here

England announced their Ashes squad, so I recorded it live. The powerpoint presentation made for great listening. I also discuss the PCA Awards, and the Champions League.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Ashes Squad Sweepstake

So everyone in the world has named an Ashes squad. Much of the expected 16 pick themselves, but because this is the Ashes, speculation, rumour and gossip still leaves a certain element of intrigue. The main questions lay in who will be reserve wicket-keeper (almost certain to be Steve Davies), who will be the second spinner (Tredwell, Panesar or Rashid) and who will be the two sub seamers (Bresnan, Shahzad or Chris Tremlett).

For what it's worth, the squad I'm about to name is not the squad I would actually pick. This is just the side I think will be picked. So here it is.

Strauss (c)
Prior (wk)
Davies (wk)

So of my side, Tredwell pips Monty, Davies gets in ahead of Kieswetter, and there's no place for Tremlett, who is beaten to the plane by Shahzad and Bresnan.

I suppose we could have an Ashes sweepstake. I've had a go - how about you? Person who gets the most wins a prize!*

*The prize may be a Follow Thursday on Twitter

Furiously Backtracking About Luke Wright

Alright. I admit it. Luke Wright played well today. Happy? Now we can move on...

It's not that I hate Luke Wright. Sure, I don't really rate him as a batsman or bowler, but I'm sure he's a nice bloke and kind to children and animals. It's more that I dislike what he does (or doesn't do) in the side.

In a normal team, England would pick three seamers (Anderson, Broad, Bresnan) and two spinners (Swann, Yardy). If each bowler bowls their full allocation, (which theoretically they are in the side to do) then there is no need to pick another bowler.

Luke has played 68 times for England as the "sixth bowler". Effectively, coach, captain and selectors are implying that they don't rate Luke's bowling high enough to be a specialist bowler, or his batting high enough to be a specialist batsman. They're picking him to kind of sometimes do a bit of one or the other. Trouble is, when called upon to actually do something, he rarely delivers.

This 5th game was different. Put into the side for the bed-ridden Yardy, Wright was picked to fulfil the role of the fifth bowler. He had a purpose in the side! Yes, his batting wasn't any great shakes, but it didn't matter as other, better batsmen had been selected to do that part. Earlier in the summer Wright was batting six, and getting no runs. Today, Morgan batted six and made a century. A much better balance to the side, don't you think?

When bowling, Wright did well; keeping it tight and taking a big wicket in Kamran Akmal. But because he was the fifth bowler, he got to bowl more than his obligatory two overs, meaning he was justifying his place in the side.

I am not (and will never be) Luke Wright's biggest fan, yet if he plays as the fifth bowler, I have no major problem with him being in the side (other than him taking the place of many better players). If Wright bats seven and bowls ten overs, he is justifying his place in the side, and keeping the balance of the team just right.

So well done Luke; congratulations on the series win, but don't let me ever catch you playing for England again!

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Podcast - Straussy Stuck On Replay

Download the latest episode here

A review of the England v Pakistan ODI series-so-far, as well as some campaigning for Andrew Strauss, and a walk down memory lane whilst thinking of the World Cup squad.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Ryan Sidebottom - A Tribute

The other day I wrote an emotional tribute to Andrew Flintoff. Fred was a massive player for England, and it has to be said, one of my favourites. Normally I can knock out a half-arsed blog in 15/20 minutes, but the Freddie tribute took a long time. I had so much to say about him, and it all flowed out in one massive fandom eulogy.

It's been a very different story with Ryan Sidebottom. I'm not quite sure what it is about him, but he doesn't push my buttons. He's taken loads of wickets for England at a great average, but there's just something about him.

Maybe it's his supposed lack of effort in the field or his anger towards fielders who misfield off him. But these could be explained as a simple aging fast bowlers lack of athleticism, and passion for the side.

Sidey was a player who at times in 2008 was one of the best in the world. Catapulted from obscurity thanks to a Hoggard injury in 2007, he returned to the international arena after one solitary test, before cementing his place in Peter Moores' side. With his late left-arm swing, he tormented New Zealand home and away, with Jacob Oram calling him the hardest bowler he'd ever faced.

Ryan was never going to be any great shakes in the field, or with the bat, but nobody can deny that he always gave 100% in every game for England. As well as taking wickets at under 25 in tests, he was England's most underrated one day death bowler, and an integral part of the World T20 winning side.

While I was never his biggest fan, and never really campaigned for his place in the side, today England lost a true fighter, and a man who never let England down. While he was never my favourite player (or Grant Elliot's), Ryan Sidebottom was a great asset to English cricket. Probably knowing he wasn't to make the Ashes squad, Ryan bowed out today with the dignity he deserved, and will be remembered with fondness and respect.

And what about the hair!

SMN: England v Pakistan Royal Rumble

Earlier today at Lord's, prior to the 4th ODI between England and Pakistan, the traditional 'royal rumble' between the two sides took place. The rules are simple - one on one conflict between two players, who are adjudged to be the best fighters in the side. Fans will clearly remember 2006's rumble, when potato shaped Pakistani Inzamam appeared to have beaten England when he sat on opposing captain Strauss, before umpire Darrell Hair amazingly pushed the portly captain off posh-boy Strauss, and awarded the fight to England. This result was later overturned by the ICC.

The proceedings were started when England's Jonathan Trott threw a pad at Pakistani left-arm swinger and probable cheat Wahab Riaz. Riaz than angrily advanced at the South African-born Trott, who grabbed Riaz by the throat. After more scuffling between the players, Trott was able to push over Riaz, before marking his guard along Riaz's chest. Match referee Jeff Crowe halted the fight, and awarded it to England.

However, head of the PCB and certifiable nutjob Ijaz Butt has since claimed that the fight was fixed to allow for an England win. With no proof at all, Butt blamed Trott, Riaz, Andrew Strauss, Jeff Crowe, David Lloyd and the Pope for the result, claiming that the "bookies I've spoken to all agree with me". However, these claims have been based on no evidence whatsoever. The ICC have launched an investigation.

In other news, Pakistan won the cricket.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Bell's Rise to Top Job

Ian Bell is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum wrapped in a puzzle. Why is he a player who has such undoubted talent, yet at times can look like he doesn't know what end of the bat to hold? Why can he struggle against some of the poorest attacks in the world, yet can score big against some of the best? Ian Bell is certainly a tricky one. I don't know whether to support his being in the side, as he can make great runs in certain situations, or argue for his being dropped, as he can also throw his wicket away when England need him the most.

Part of the IRB debate is what position he should bat. He won't open, isn't solid enough to bat 3, isn't full of runs to bat 4, and isn't gritty enough to bat 5. Yet he seems like the world's best number 6, when he can come in at 350/4, and can score a really pretty hundred. And if England play 6 batsman (not including Prior at 7), then Bell is clearly a much better bet than Morgan to bat at number 6.

Ian Bell is like an insect who just won't die, and no matter how many times he's stamped on, he keeps wriggling back into life and jumping into the coleslaw. Just when all seemed lost in the West Indies 2009, he gets a lucky way back in and keeps his place in the side. And even when injured, he appears to be nailed on to start in Brisbane. He's gone through so many crises of confidence, so many dips in form and so many struggles against certain bowlers. Yet still retains his place.

Ian Bell is 28. He has played 57 test matches. Today he will captain Warwickshire in the CB40 final.

Part of the nature of being an English cricket fan is an ability to look far into the future, irregardless of much more important things in the immediate view. Andrew Strauss is 33. He won't play test cricket forever. And as such, he won't captain England forever. Which means the search for his successor has already begun.

When looking for a captain, Andy Flower will look for a player who has lots of test experience. Has an unassailable place in the side. A good captaincy record. And is young enough to take the job on for a few years.

Collingwood is out - too old. KP won't want another go. Alastair Cook isn't guarenteed of his place in the side in a month, let alone in a couple of years. And England won't really want to pick a bowler as captain. Which leaves former Under-19 captain and test veteran Ian Ronald Bell.

No disrespect to Ian Bell, but when I've watched his England career (which is probably 99% of it) he hasn't displayed an awful lot of tactical nous or obvious leadership qualities. He doesn't look like the sort of bloke who can inspire in the dressing room, or console when times are tough. His record of never scoring the first hundred in the innings (until recently) hardly speaks of a man leading from the front.

All in all, Ian probably won't be a very good captain for England. Which is why I want Somerset to win today's CB40 final, to stop IRB's inexorable rise to the top role in English cricket. So in order to stop Ian, I've dug some dirt, where some people call for him to be banned from cricket.

Sorry Ian. Even in this post I've gone from liking him, to disliking him, to feeling sorry for writing a post where I'm mean about him. I guess that's the inigma that is Ian Bell.

Friday, 17 September 2010

What Flintoff Gave Cricket

Andrew Flintoff has retired from cricket. Nobody could say it was a surprise, as the injuries kept stacking up, and returns were looking more and more unlikely. Fred has been a fantastic performer for England over the past decade, and while some are quick to mock his subsequent career as a celebrity, it's important that nobody underestimates Flintoff's importance to English cricket, and what he's given to cricket in general.

Brilliant bowling

Flintoff's over to Langer and Ponting at Edgbaston in 2005 was surely his highlight - and indeed was one of the best overs ever bowled. With every ball on the spot, he asked questions of two of the world's top batsmen each delivery, before removing both of them. While history remembers Hoggard's hat-trick at Barbados, it was Flintoff who took a five-for in the first innings. As both a renowned death bowler in limited overs, and as a strike bowler in tests, Flintoff was England's talisman with the ball, and by the end of his career was a better bowler than batsman (not bad for a supposed batsman who could bowl a bit). Often tipping above 90mph, as well as generating some swing, Flintoff was a deadly bowler to face. Highlights have to be the continued high performance in the 2005 Ashes, bowling to Jacques Kallis in 2008 at Edgbaston, as well as the scintillating spell on the final morning at Lord's in 2009 to finish off the Aussies and pick up an all-too-rare 5 wicket haul.

Destructive batting

While many will remember his hundred at Trent Bridge in 2005, his best innings was probably against the West Indies at Edgbaston, where he brutally marmalised the Windie attack to pick up 167. And (attention Flintoff cliche fans) he even picked out his dad in the crowd with one massive six! (Who dropped it.) Flintoff owned all the shots, and while his brute strength meant that they often cleared the rope, people shouldn't forget the natural batsman Flintoff's excellent timing. He didn't just belt teams around; a patient 95 against South Africa at the Oval was Flintoff at his best, mixing some big hitting with some delicate strokes.

Solid fielding

Flintoff was long known as one of the best slippers in the business, and his bucket-hands meant very few chances were spilled. Never the most mobile or agile, Flintoff's seminal moment in the field was running out Ricky Ponting at the Oval in 2009. (You knew it was coming!)


Yes, Fred may have been captain for the lowest point of English cricket, but he was also skipper for a test victory in India, as well as overseeing a ODI series victory out in Australia. But to be fair, he wasn't a great captain. Sorry Fred.

The Aura

Whenever Flintoff either came on to bowl or came out to bat, the crowd became frenzied, and expectations were raised. Every interview with players who played with Fred will speak of how much belief he gave them when they were playing alongside him, and his simply being there inspired so many great victories. When Flintoff played well, oftentimes England won, and that was due to everyone raising their game to match the feats of Fred. Conversely, opposition batsmen who had been scoring freely went into their shells once the announcer called out "Andrew Flintoff", simply because the man had such an aura surrounding him.


Brett Lee at Edgbaston. Nuff said.

Sense of Fun

Everyone who played with Fred said what great fun he was in the dressing room, whether that was singing to Rocket Man or Ring of Fire, or hitting the bar (heavily) after the game. Unsurprisingly, the general public's main knowledge of Fred is of his red bleary eyes on top of the bus after winning the Ashes, confessing that he hadn't been to bed that night. Also included is the famous "mind the pavilion windows, Tino" sledge which bought the wicket of Tino Best in 2004. Sure, he could take it to far at times (Fredalo, anyone?) but what a bloke he must have been to play alongside.

New fans

After the 2005 Ashes, cricket became back page news, and was picked up by so many new fans nationwide. Much of that was due to Flintoffmania, a by-product of Ashes Fever, and his high level of performance, combined with his character meant that cricket was brought into the mainstream. While celebrity (whether unwanted or not) followed for Flintoff, he played a huge part in bringing cricket to a new generation of fans (myself included).

Andrew Flintoff may now have left cricket, but he leaves a massive hole in the game. He brought so much to the game, and served it so well, and it's only right that he is remembered as a true legend of the sport.

Oh how we love!
Your pedalo
Your gorgeous wife
Your ample girth
Your chain smoking
Your beer drinking
Your slip catching
Your seam bowling
Your six hitting
Our all round man
Freddie Flintoff
Freddie Freddie Flintoff
Freddie Flintoff
Freddie Freddie Flintoff

Well played, Super Fred.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

The Winners and Losers At The End of The Season

The County Championship is much maligned. With sparse crowds and odd fixture lists, the LVCC isn't so much ridiculed as ignored.

But the four day championship is the platform for potential England stars to impress, as well as the stage for current and former ones to shine. This year we've had Steven Finn taking a 9-for, Stuart Broad taking an 8-for, as well as aspiring England players Hildreth and Lyth at the top of the run scorers charts. Everyone's in agreement that test cricket is the purest form of cricket, and the English domestic County Championship is the breeding ground for test cricket. And as well as that, it's pretty funking exciting.

Today's final day of the season had everything. Stubborn batting, inspired bowling. Teams contriving to lose, and gallant victories from nowhere. Teams fighting for promotion, relegation and championships. This whole season has been incredibly tight, and deserved the climax it got. Fortunately rain didn't play (much of) a part in the final day's proceedings, and there were no wink-wink nudge-nudge declarations. There was only fiercely competed cricket, with high drama, excitement, and more twists than Inception (apparently... I haven't seen it...)

Today's winners? Well, Nottinghamshire won Division One; well deserved after a season leading from the front with some outstanding cricket throughout. It's only fitting that Andre Adams took the crucial wicket needed; his 69th of the season and most out of everybody. Worcestershire also big winners; clinching what at one stage was the unlikeliest of promotions from the clutches of Glamorgan. Warwickshire got the win they needed to avoid relegation with Kent the unlucky (or lucky, depending on how you look at it) side who will drop into Division Two.

But the biggest winner? The County Championship itself. Talk of reform in the county game has been ongoing all year, with talk of three divisions, regional based conferences, reduced matches and increased restrictions undermining the current system. While changes may well be implemented, the fact that two nine team leagues each playing 16 times can go down to the final hour of the season shows that entertainment wise, there is no need to alter the current state of affairs. The two divisional system may or may not return, but if it doesn't, what a send off it got today.

This is not a Flintoff post.

This is not a Flintoff post. Yes, there will be one, as I want to honour a fantastic performer for England, and a man who played a huge part in me getting into cricket.

But today is about the County Championship. Congratulations Nottinghamshire!

Monday, 13 September 2010

Craig Kieswetter on Twitter

Craig Kieswetter's on Twitter. He's apparently been on for a while, but I only just found him. Yesterday he was tweeting of how he wants more followers and mentions. So I'm giving him a plug.

I'm plugging him partly because he's an England World Cup winner and top-class wicket-keeper batsman. But mainly because his bio says "Cider or cricket? Cider anyday!". And that's a message that we can all follow.

If you are on Twitter and want more than stalking top-level cricketers, you should follow The Short Midwicket. Apparently he's really good.

Poll - Who has the worst beard in cricket?

Oh dear, readers of the Short Midwicket. You've let yourselves down. And not only that, you've let Mohammad Yousuf down. This week I stuck up a poll to see who has the worst beard in cricket. For no real reason, other than I am interested to see who you'd pick. I put in the obvious answers; Peter Siddle's triangle goatee, Steve Harmison's designer stubble. I even had Dan Vettori, Stuart Broad's bumfluff and Ricky Ponting's dodgy tache. A curveball was Yousuf, who clearly has the best beard in cricket (other than Moeen Ali). But 37% of you chose his facial fuzz to be the worst. For shame.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Podcast - Who will be the County Champions (League)?

Download the latest episode here

A well-informed preview of the Champions League, as well as more stuff on the nailbiting end to the County season, and the not-so-nailbiting England/Pakistan T20 seriesette

Friday, 10 September 2010

Shah Not So Ace

I don't know how many people saw Owais Shah's dismissal at Lord's today. Shah's departure from Middlesex has been well documented, as he is clearly one of the most talented batsmen in England, and nobody wants to lose a player of his quality, and who is also an academy graduate.

However, at times Shah's application, concentration and shot selection leaves a lot to be desired. Middlesex were chasing a modest target, and a few wickets had fallen. The side were struggling, and needed senior man Shah to stand up and make runs which could have led to a win. Shah threw his wicket away with an ugly swipe which was caught at mid-on.

If one shot could sum up why Shah is being let go, it was that one. Owais will be looked back on as one of Middlesex's best players of the noughties, but the time has come for him to leave. After knowing his time as an England player has gone, Shah appeared to lack the motivation to make big scores - perhaps highlighted most pertinently when he made only his second ton of the season after hearing of his departure. His decision to not acknowledge the pavilion highlights his displeasure, but again raises questions over his temperament. If he only made runs as a sign for selfish reasons, why didn't he make runs when the team needed them throughout the summer?

Owais Shah's final shot for Middlesex may not have made much of a difference to a game that Middlesex lost convincingly, but it served to further underline the reasons for his departure.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Why Tamim and County Cricket Need Each Other

In amongst other exploits in the BBC London commentary box, we got talking about Shakib Al Hasan. Shakib, playing for Worcestershire, was turning it miles, and had Middlesex's middle order of Shah, Malan and Housego (great to see him get a game by the way) in all kinds of trouble. KH, being a man of great knowledge, said that Shakib was (and indeed is) the first and only Bangladeshi to play county cricket.

A quick iPhone google proved that it was the case, which sort of surprised me. Bangladesh have been playing internationally for ten years now; surely at least one of them was worth a go? My search also led to a great interview with Tamim Iqbal, who put himself forward to play for a county.

When England were constantly playing Bangladesh earlier in the year, I spoke a bit about the development (or lack of it) of the Banga players - but the more first class cricket they play (especially in conditions such as England), the more experience and skills they can take into the test arena.

There are plenty of unpolished diamonds in the Bangladesh side, and there are a few players who can really benefit some counties (especially given the fact they're probably being payed a fraction of some other overseas stars). Shakib himself has proved that - taking wickets at an average of 22 this year - not bad going for a spinner playing at Worcester.

My google led me to an interview with Tamim Iqbal (the undoubted star of Bangladeshi cricket). Tamim's scored a few test hundreds, but plenty of low scores alongside the fast paced tons indicates a lack of first class experience and understanding. Tamim spoke to the Telegraph, and told of how he wanted to play county cricket, but "no one has phoned. Maybe nobody knows my number. Even I don't know my number". With counties already starting to look ahead and plan for next year, they could do much worse than Tamim. They'd just need to find out his mobile number first.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

My favourite cricketer - Graeme Swann

I'd forgotten I'd written this. It was for Test Match Sofa, where they invited everyone to send in 100 words on their favourite cricketer, and why he was their favourite. I went over the 100 words, but it still feels rather short. It doesn't come anywhere near explaining the love for GP Swann.

Graeme Swann first came to my attention as a happy-go-lucky county pro who got on the radio just for being funny. He’d also played once for England, but overslept and missed the team bus. With blonde highlights in his hair and a spring in his step, he was a breath of fresh air when recalled to the England ODI team in 2007, and two wickets in his first over of test cricket also helped. Swann’s off-spin currently rivals anyone in world cricket, and he’s taken crucial wickets at crucial times (including an Ashes winning one). Now rated as the number three bowler in the world, Swanny is my ideal teammate; he’d win the game single-handedly on the pitch before having a great time in the bar afterwards. Which makes him my favourite cricketer in the world.

So now you know why.

A (sort of) Middlesex season review

It seems like only yesterday I was looking forward to the start of the county season. It wasn't too long ago that I was so optimistic about Middlesex's season - especially due to the form of Steven Finn. It seems like only moments ago that Middlesex started to lose some games, and I stopped writing about them.

After 7 county champo games in the blink of an eye (with a small smattering of 40 overs in there too), attention was turned to the T20, which was undoutably the focal point of the cricketing summer (mainly due to it's invasive nature and 170 odd matches).

But now the T20 has come and gone; the group stages of the CB40 are over, and Middlesex are playing their last game of the season.

Where has the time gone?

To say it has been an up and down season for Middlesex would be an understatement. There have been some electrifying performances; such as the CC wins over Surrey, Sussex and Glamorgan, but there too have been some timid defeats. Far too many timid defeats. In the T20, we had a 50% win/loss ratio, with some epic wins over Essex, Kent and Hampshire, following and preceding terrible defeates to Surrey, Gloucestershire and Sussex. And the less said about the CB40 the better!

So where now for Middlesex? Iain O'Brien's visa issues are well documented, and of course we all hope he's able to extend his stay at Lord's. Pedro Collins has to leave due to a change in Kolpak laws, and we all wish Pedro well; a good performer in all codes of the game this year. And Owais Shah is leaving, released by the club, perhaps due to money, perhaps due to poor performances, probably a combination of both.

Chris Rogers will arrive as an overseas player for next year, and if he can maintain his 60+ average at the top of the order, it could be a very good piece of business. Eoin Morgan is staying, having re-signed his contract, but the nature of the international calendar means we'll be without him, Strauss and Finn for long spells of the season.

While this season has been often one to forget for Middlesex, there have been some positives. There have been plenty more wins then last season - proof that Angus Fraser is slowly turning it around. The emergence of Toby Roland-Jones and John Simpson as very good young county players (and potential internationals in the future) is very encouraging, as has been some infrequent performances from Josh Davey, Adam London and Sam Robson.

The problem with Middlesex at the moment is that we're a team in transition; a side who are building on our way to bigger and better things. With very promising, talented youngsters, as well as some players like Dawid Malan who are continuing to flourish, we could be in with a chance of promotion next year if we remain consistent. But that's probably me just being blindly and optimistically deluded.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Luke Wright's 65

I've often spoken about Luke Wright. For years I've remained unaware of the reasons why he's in England's one day sides, as a 'bits and pieces' bowler, and a pretty cack batsman. Wright didn't bowl in Pakistan's innings, came in at 6 (a position far too elevated for a player that bad) and scored a duck. And before anyone claims that he's in because he's a decent fielder, he also shelled an absolute dolly in the field.

Upset and angered about Wright (well, I had to be upset and angered about something; England were doing well), I had a little look on Cricinfo to amazingly find that Luke has now played 65 times for England - 40 ODIs and 25 T20 games. Incredible! For a player who averages so badly with both bat and ball (17 with bat in T20s and 52 in ODIs with the ball), he seems to have a charmed life with England selectors.

So fuelled by rage that this chancer has played 65 times for my country, I have decided to list 65 players who haven't played for England, who have deserved to play more than Luke. And every time he plays for England here on in, I'll add another player to the list.

(Note - these players aren't in any order - they're just players who I would have played ahead of Wright).

1. Jimmy Adams
2. Adam Lyth
3. Jos Buttler
4. Darren Stevens
5. James Vince
6. Wes Durston
7. Dawid Malan
8. James Taylor
9. Chris Woakes
10. Graham Napier
11. Mark Pettini
12. James Hildreth
13. Tom Smith
14. The other Tom Smith
15. The other the other Tom Smith
16. Alfonso Thomas
17. Stewart Walters
18. Matthew Spriegel (obviously)
19. Jason Roy
20. Jaik Mickleburgh
21. Alex Hales
22. Andrew Gale
23. Arul Suppiah
24. Garry Park
25. Rory Hamilton-Brown
26. Sam Northeast
27. Jim Allenby
28. Matt Walker
29. Ali Brown
30. James Benning
31. Jonny Bairstow
32. Ben Scott
33. Andrew Hodd
34. Paul Horton
35. Scott Snell
36. Ben Harmison
37. Paul Franks
38. Ben Stokes
39. Joe Gatting
40. Neil Dexter
41. Gareth Berg
42. Scott Newman
43. John Simpson
44. Jonathan Clare
45. Graeme Wagg
46. Jake Needham
47. James Harris
48. Alex Blake
49. James Middlebrook
50. Will Beer
51. David (snigger) Willey
52. Glen Chapple
53. Gary Keedy
54. Greg Smith
55. Dan Briggs
56. Tim Murtagh
57. Toby Roland-Jones
58. Danny Evans
59. Robbie Williams (not that one)
60. Tim Linley
61. Luke Fletcher
62. David Wainwright
63. Simon Cook
64. David Masters
65. Peter Trego

Podcast - KP's Twitter Funk Up

Download this episode here

The backlash from sport’s biggest story: Kevin Pietersen swearing on Twitter. There’s also some stuff about the County Championship, CB40, England/Pakistan one day series, and something about some minor scandal involving some players and bookmakers.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Ashes Build-Up Starts Here

So it's official. And because it's on BBC Sport, it's very official. The build-up to the Ashes has officially started. (Well, I started my Ashes build-up on March 4th, when the tag Ashes 2010/11 Build-Up was born).

Oliver Brett (you know... him. You probably follow him on Twitter) has got a few of his TMS mates around, and they've all picked their Ashes squads. The rules are that the squads must comprise 16 players.

For what they're worth (to stop you leaving this site, as you might never return...), here are the squads.

Jonathan Agnew and Alec Stewart

Andrew Strauss
Alastair Cook
Jonathan Trott
Kevin Pietersen
Paul Collingwood
Eoin Morgan
Matt Prior
Stuart Broad
Graeme Swann
James Anderson
Steven Finn

Ian Bell
Steven Davies
Tim Bresnan
Ajmal Shahzad
Monty Panesar

Interesting selections from Aggers and Stu - the first choice eleven was no surprise but having Monty in there is somewhat of a surprise given that... well it's Monty! Jimmy Tredwell appeared to have the second-spinner's berth nailed down - but not in the eyes of these two who want the experience of Panesar as a potential replacement for an injured Swann.

Phil Tufnell

Andrew Strauss
Alastair Cook
Jonathan Trott
Kevin Pietersen
Paul Collingwood
Eoin Morgan
Matt Prior
Stuart Broad
Graeme Swann
James Anderson
Steven Finn

Ian Bell
Craig Kieswetter
Tim Bresnan
Michael Carberry
Monty Panesar

Tuffers also would pick Monty, as well as Kieswetter ahead of Davies, and Carberry in there as a replacement bat. He'd also have Bresnan as the replacement bowler.

Oliver Brett

Andrew Strauss
Alastair Cook
Jonathan Trott
Kevin Pietersen
Paul Collingwood
Eoin Morgan
Matt Prior
Stuart Broad
Graeme Swann
James Anderson
Steven Finn

Ian Bell
Steven Davies
Ryan Sidebottom
Ajmal Shahzad
Adil Rashid

Case of one Yorkie out, and one in as Adil Rashid is picked by BBC's Brett, and Tim Bresnan dropped for Ryan Sidebottom. Davies is retained as well.

Interesting stuff, I'm sure you'll agree. So for my two-pennies worth.

My picks



So my first eleven has Bell in it ahead of Morgan (I know, sorry. But Morgs isn't really a test player yet), and has three uncapped players in the five man replacements. I see Davies both as my replacement wicket-keeper and as my reserve opener - a job he's performed well in for Surrey. Bresnan's in as my all-rounder, Rashid as an all-round spinner who can offer something different. And Chris Woakes. Who is a really promising player who will no doubt play many times for England, and can use the experience of an Ashes tour (even if he's only carrying drinks) as a massive step in his development.

Anyway, that's what I think. And yes, I may be going early (in that England have a T20/ODI series yet to play against Pakistan) but whatever. I'm excited for the Ashes.

Agree? Disagree? Tell me your thoughts in the comments, and I'll tell you why you're wrong. *Unless you agree with me, in which case, you're right.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Onions Making Me Cry

I've always liked Graham Onions. Maybe it's the funny name. Maybe it's the fact that he looks a lot like Mark Watson, a comedian I like. Maybe it's because I'm partial to Geordie accents. Maybe it's his defiant blocking batting. More likely it's because I like his swing bowling.

Back a few years ago I also liked Simon Jones. He too had a fun accent (Welsh). He too ripped through the Aussies with lethal swing.

Sadly, just like Onions, Jones was rather injury prone.

Life for a fast bowler has it's ups and downs, and as Iain O'Brien told me in one of my podcasts, injuries are never too far away. Simon Jones picked up a knee injury in the fourth 2005 Ashes test. There was a race against time to get him fit for the fifth test, a week later. Jones hasn't played for England since. Other than this year for Hampshire, Jones hasn't played with any real regularity since that heady win at Trent Bridge.

Onions got injured in training out in Bangladesh ahead of the tests. His injury was also first thought to be minor, but it soon became obvious that wasn't to be the case.

Like Jones in the intervening years since 2005, Onions has set himself targets of getting back playing. He's missed all of those targets. And today the news was announced that he's having a back operation which rules him out for 9 months. Officially ruling him out of an Ashes tour he still held increasingly faint hopes of making.

When Jones first got injured, people started to fill in for him, but as time went on, made the position their own. Onions' third seamer position went to Steven Finn, who appears to have it nailed down for the foreseeable future. He's seemingly slipped down the pecking order behind Bresnan and Shahzad.

Like Jones, Onions could well recover from his serious injury to play at a good level. However, like Jones, the cut throat nature of international cricket means Onions may have played his last for England. This makes me sad. You could say that Onions is making me cry.