Sunday, September 10, 2006

Questions & Answers

Strauss or Flintoff? Having heard the Sky commentators split themselves down the middle on this, I have to say that I'm easy with whatever choice the selectors make. The only odd thing is that normally a tour captain would have a say on the squad he leads. With no official announcement, you have to think that that's not going to be the case this time. However...

A Sweet 16? Following on from the comment above, you do have to say that there's a fair amount of unanimity on at least 13 of the 16 places up for grabs. The one interesting dissenting voice is Mike Atherton, who comes up with the (valid in my view) arguement that you really shoudn't be picking players who've been out of the game for six months plus. Atherton got bitten by this on the '94 tour which turned into a farce before the first test, so you can sympathise with his point of view.

What's with the Perth arrangement? 5 players will fly out with the main squad and stay in Perth up to the end of the 3rd Test as a 'back-up' squad - acclimitising themselves to the conditions and on standby to join the main squad at a moments notice. It's an inspired idea that's got Duncan Fletcher's fingerprints all over it. Effectively we get a squad of 21, with none of the previous problems involving a player facing a 24 hour journey followed by being thrown in at the deep end in 100 degree heat compared with the freezing conditions he's left at home.

Still reckon we can retain the Ashes? We only need to draw the series. This means that the squad has to be ensure we can switch between an eleven with seven batsmen and only four front line batsmen, and the more orthodox 'six-plus-five'. Of course, both scenarios will be fat more comfortable if 'A Flintoff' is one of the eleven listed names.

What did you mean by 'Jimmy Conway as Freddie Flintoff' in your previous post?
Think about it. The first time De Niro appears in Goodfellas, he's the life and soul of the party - dispensing wisecracks and tips in equal measure ('He even tipped the guy who kept the ice cold') And he carries on in the vein through most of the film. During the 'Shoe Shine' scene, Jimmy Conway is the guy trying to pour oil on troubled waters, insisting everyone has a drink after Tommy's first outburst. So it's a real eye-opener when he starts giving the prone figure of Billy Batts a real shoeing after the stabbing.

Even after that he's seems outwardly calm - you can even forgive his reaction to the fur coat and new car that other gang members flaunt after the Idlewild Heist, until the cracks really start showing after Tommy is whacked on the day he's supposed to be 'made'.

Flintoff has the same outward air of bonhomie and contentment personified, but then remember that some of his bowling spells last summer were absolutely brutal - you still wince (and secretly grin...) when you see what he did to Brett Lee at Edgbaston, Ponting in the same test, and Hayden at The Oval.

The narrator in 'Goodfellas' says that everyone was scared of Jimmy Conway. The Australians are terrified of Freddie. Harmison they can cope with (although it's obviously not much fun) because they know the spells will be short, and a fair percentage of deliveries will be off target, but with Flintoff, his spells seem to last forever, and ball after ball will dart back in from outside off stump aiming at the ribcage - all at 90+mph.

And then there's that pesky reverse swing...

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