4th test open thread

by Chris Bertram on August 8, 2009

Sorry, I forgot to get this started. But in truth, it was pretty much over by lunchtime on day one. Should Harmison ever play for England again? I’m certain that Bopara shouldn’t. Comment away!



Sunder Katwala 08.08.09 at 11:41 am

The one desperate/hopeful thought this morning was that, if England could contain Australia to 330, the first innings lead would not be greater than it was at Headingley in 1981.

100 without loss today and even the chance of emulating that miracle seems a long way off.


Liam 08.08.09 at 11:47 am

I agree Bopara shouldn’t and neither should Harmison, and, although Panesar hasn’t featured much I would have taken Rashid instead.

I seem to agree with everything that Boycott says, certainly about this ashes series, should I be worried?


Neil 08.08.09 at 11:51 am

Mike Selvey says (in the Guardian, and at the end of day one) that England are “still in touch” with Australia. Presumably he is now admitting to a flesh wound.


occidental_death 08.08.09 at 2:13 pm

I turned on the radio at 5 p.m. yesterday, shortly after the wickets of Ponting and Hussey had fallen. “Not bad,” I thought, “after some morning rain, we’ve done of decent job of pegging the Aussies back.”

Then I heard a reference to Australia’s sixty-odd run lead, and my stomach turned slightly.


chris y 08.08.09 at 5:10 pm

But if you select on form, you pick Harmison. If you don’t select on form, what criteria do you use? The strategy of “building a stable squad” doesn’t seem to work. Picking the bowler who’s currently most effective at county level doesn’t work. What’s left? Sortes Virgilianae with a copy of last year’s Wisden? Worth a try, as far as I can see.

Bopara is a reasonable one day player. Never understood why he was ever considered for the test side.


mart 08.08.09 at 5:31 pm

Agree about Bopara – he’s been awful. Disagree about Harmison, as mentioned above his form’s been excellent this summer, and his bowling in this match has been agressive and rewarded with a couple of wickets. In the context of England’s perfomance over the last couple of days, I would hardly single out SH. We’ve clearly been relying too much on Flintoff and Pietersen though.

I seem to agree with everything that Boycott says, certainly about this ashes series, should I be worried?


Tom 08.08.09 at 7:39 pm

Harmison is done for. Third time he’s gone away taken a stack of wickets in county cricket, only to fail miserably in Tests. I think it’s a helpful indicator of the class required to play Tests. What gets you a stack of wickets in county cricket simply isn’t enough to do the businesss in Tests. For years the Aussies have known that it’s as much about balls as talent, and Harmison has no balls.

He’s an amazingly stupid bowler, simply unable to change his approach to the conditions . He bowled one of Test match cricket’s great slower balls in the 2005 series, and yet 99.9% of the time you just get the same back of a length crap he’s been serving up for the last 5 years. Odd.

Batting wise, our middle order is absolutely shot. Bopara, as predicted by Warne, is all mouth and no trousers. Utterly exposed at the highest level. Bell is the Harmison of the batting line up and should be dropped for good. The alarming thing is the lack of talent waiting in the wings. That Robert Key is the next best option beggars belief. I follow the county scene and there’s really no one bar maybe Denly or Trott (who’s a Saffer) who might step up.

Boycott is a belicose grump, but he knows his cricket, he’s not often wrong.


Jason 08.08.09 at 11:45 pm

Tom brings up another problem – reading along with the Guardian’s OBO you can never tell if they’re sarcastic or not when they go on one of the usual “oh lookie Key’s got a boatload of runs” rants. Bopara and Bell really do have to go, but haven’t we been here before with Key? The calls for Ramps, Vaughan, and hey why not Butcher or maybe we can get that Nick Knight to finally fire, hell Boyks shoots his mouth off enough why not stick him in the middle, will be coming in, and I’m not sure that’s healthy. KP’s certainly been much more stupid than anybody this series, so it wouldn’t matter to me when he’s due back. The longer away the better, almost, because the temptation’s going to be to put him in 1st fow, and then he’ll look really stupid.

If dropping Bopara’s harsh, could he bat elsewhere? I’d be looking at Denly, and I’d stick with Broad at any rate. It’s only one match, England are up 1-0, there’s still a decider to come. Mitchell J. has looked v. Harmison-esque this Ashes, terrifying one day and awful most others. I don’t count Australia the favorites yet.

One thing England’s selection policy has always been about is keeping the Test and 50-over sides as similar as possible, a strategy I’ve never understood, and I think that’s why they’re always incorporating crap test batsmen – they don’t seem to understand that if your limited-overs side is crap, you don’t want to use that as your development side.


mart 08.09.09 at 1:20 am

KP’s certainly been much more stupid than anybody this series, so it wouldn’t matter to me when he’s due back.
Well it’s true that he got out playing some awful shots in the first two matches, but he hasn’t played since then, and even with the dumbass shot selection he’s by far the best batsman we have, especially given the batting collapse massacre we’ve just seen at Leeds.

I’m sure Harmison will add to his tally in Australia’s second innings…oh.


nick s 08.09.09 at 2:50 am

That last hour of TMS went past excruciating to a kind of numbing black comedy. The one hope for the Oval is that you’d expect Punter to pick a winning side, as opposed to playing for a draw to keep the urn, and he’s not likely to bring Hauritz back in on a wicket that’s likely to turn.

The other thought is that YCCC is not going to be happy in the slightest with the gate receipts of a 2.3 day Test.


mart 08.09.09 at 3:07 am

That last hour of TMS went past excruciating to a kind of numbing black comedy.

Actually I usually think that about TMS from pretty much the first over toss. The day when men in white coats who aren’t Umpires come up and take Blowers and Boycott away can’t come too soon.


Jason 08.09.09 at 2:56 pm

I think the pairing of Blowers and Viv Richards two series ago, away at Windies, was maybe the worst TMS commentary I’ve heard. Blowers’ tics everybody knows about, but Richards has a way of saying “I think the West Indies need to score runs/take wickets” with roughly 500 qualifying clauses and a nice punctuating “uhhhhhhhh” between each. Between the usual befuddled lorry-and-pigeon act it was just brutal. These days I’m often listening to Aggers trying to get Boycott’s goat with some silly trivia question or another, when those two are on it’s…painful.


mart 08.09.09 at 3:46 pm

agreed that was pretty bad in the Windies. I hate to say it, but the Aussie commentators this time have been pretty good (i.e. actually sane), although Matt Hayden did start babbling about some cake yesterday. I wonder how many empty bottles litter the floor of the commentary box? I’m guessing quite a few.


Tom 08.09.09 at 7:47 pm

I was really down on Hayden early on, he KEPT going on about his beautiful family. However, as it’s gone on, I’ve really warmed to him. He’s funny(ish), knowledgeable and really in awe about what he’s doing. It’s easy to forget that the guy was a 50+ opening batsman, who on his day could destroy an attack. Maxwell is clear minded and knows his onions.

Why no one hasn’t told Blowers that the schtick about buses and pigeons is verging on mental illness, and certainly not eccentric, I’m not quite sure.


derrida derider 08.10.09 at 1:19 am

Ah, God’s in his heaven and the Poms are at our mercy – all’s right with the world. It’s good to see the natural order restored.

The Oval will be a very different match. My money’s on a draw – no spinner means we won’t take 20 wickets on that flat slow turner. I expect a runfest where even someone with as dodgy a technique outside off as Bopara should be able to scratch an innings together. The likes of Strauss and Ponting will just keep hitting until they get tired.


Richie Benaud 08.12.09 at 1:11 pm

I see KP can’t avoid the stick and remains complicit in abject defeat even when he’s not so much as put on a pad. Ho hum.

I’ll be there on day 3 and day 5 at the Oval should any one of you care to seek the benefit of my unparalleled knowledge of the game. I might even give you my autograph.

TMS is still one the dwindling number of things that makes your country great, btw.

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