Thursday, January 04, 2007

Operation Phoenix?

In the scheme of things, losing an Ashes series 5-0 to a side skippered by Ricky Ponting must rank up there alongside 'losing a General Election to a party led by John Major' or 'having one of your masterpieces kept out of the number one spot by Please Release Me by Engelbert Humperdink' - the history books will show it happened, but it's not something you're going to be particularly proud about.

Actually, Ricky and his boys have probably done English cricket an enormous favour though admittedly it might not seem that way at the moment. but the shear comprehensiveness of the whitewash means that the authorities to to take serious note of what went wrong, and start putting together a proper action plan to start putting things right and building a framework within which the team can start developing for the 2009 re-match.

Australia started their preparations for this series around 7pm on Monday 12th September, 2005. There's no shame in copying good practice, so I'd therefore suggest that England do something similar starting later today when the curtain falls on this series.

The biggest mistake England could make (and it was something that was coming up in conversations around the MCG last week) would be to assume that an Australian team without Warne, McGrath, Langer, Martyn - and presumably Hayden & Gilchrist, is simply there for the taking. There is a huge crop of hungry cricketers in Australia who have been fighting for their opportunity over the past five years or so and have, until now, been frustrated by the continuity in the Aussie side during that time. Michael Hussey, for example, has been waiting patiently for some time - and there's plenty more like him with a point to prove a few years down the line. The faces may well be different, but the attitude will be exactly the same.

To begin with, they need to come up with some answers to a few questions...

1) Why, with all the experts that England have available, were two of our frontline bowlers psychologically unprepared to perform in the first Test Match - and what can be done to prevent a repeat occurance?

2) Why was one of our key batsman picked for the tour when he was patently not mentally prepared for it?

3) What was the thought process that led to Freddie declaring at 550-6 at Adelaide?

4) Is it right that one person (Duncan Fletcher) had control over both the touring party as a whole, AND team selection?

5) Is Fletcher the right person to take England up to the 2009 series?

6) Who is going to be captain in 2009? Or maybe, who would we like to see as captain in 2009?

7) Who at the ECB agreed to the farcical tour itinerary? (And why does he still have a job?)

8) Does the 'central contract' system give players sufficient playing time to prepare themselves effectively for Test Match cricket?

The answers they come up with, and the actions taken to address the serious issues raised by those questions could well decide the 2009 series before a ball is bowled.


Anonymous said...

Your comments in regard to Ricky Ponting are probably fair in the context of 2005, but anyone paying any sort of attention to the current series would observe that he is a different batsman, man and captain to the loss in 2005.

It may be argued that this current Ashes series is the making of Ponting as a captain, but clearly 2005 was. If Australia had won in a close contest, and let's face it 2005 could have gone either way at a number of points, I would think that Ponting would still be a similar style of captain to 2005; not willing to back his own judgement and listening to other senior players too often.

Captaincy by committee doesn't work and it has taken courage on his part to recognise that and learn from it.

The way Ponting has captained this year is reminiscent of the more refined approaches of Taylor and Waugh in making things happen and being a step ahead of the game. I accept that Ponting isn't the most likable or charismatic leader this side has had, but his single mindedness and focus in leading this great team is something he really should be commended upon.

Tony.T said...

Losing the Ashes to a team captained by Ponting might be bad, but losing them to a team containing Geraint and The Gilo is far worse.

Anonymous said...

5-nil tony t. Not one win on tour. But, whatever it takes to cheer you up. Look forward to another stuffing come the ODI's.

Tony.T said...

What are you talking about, Anonymous? It's pretty obvious from my comment that I'm Strayan. Had you bothered to click my link, you might just have spotted that.