Gatting and The Ashes

With 50 days before England and Australia resume battle (ODI), and 64 until the real stuff begins, Mike Gatting and his opinions have resurfaced. Oh yeah – the Phoney war is well and truly alive.

In 2003 he “predicted” – much to Australia’s amusement – Australia would struggle to retain The Ashes in 2006/7:

…he wrote in UK newspaper The Observer that Australia would be gutted by the loss of Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and possibly Adam Gilchrist by the time the old foes next met in Australia.

Which was quickly quashed by, yes, who else but Greg Chappell:

“He’s stating the obvious in the sense that he’s named four super players and they’re not easily replaced. He’s not a rocket scientist but it won’t help England.”

Now, this was all pretty bullish by Gatting – but he was partially right in saying that England’s bowlers would, by then, by in their prime. Obviously I/we hope Harmison’s disasterous South African tour is a one-off, and that he will still be around in 2006/7 (having stated he’s concerned about how long he will play for).

Today, Gatting’s a bit more cautious but still pinpoints Harmison and Flintoff as the two key players:

“The ability to compete is there and they have possibly an outside chance of winning the series at the moment. If Steve Harmison fires and Flintoff does well, that’s where it’s really going to hinge,” said Gatting, who captained the side that beat Allan Border’s Australians 2-1 in 1986-87.

The other bit of news is Ian Botham’s fury at the ommission of Kevin Pietersen in England’s squad to face Bangladesh. I’ve mentioned before that I’m not Botham’s biggest fan – he’s a bloody spoilt kid, or at least comes across like that in commentary – but he does often make very good points. This isn’t one of them:

“To beat Australia, everyone agrees England will need to be aggressive, to take them on and to be at the top of their game from the very first ball of the first Test,” Botham wrote. “But they are going to give themselves a massive handicap if they won’t even put out their strongest team.”

If Botham disagrees with someone/anyone (and he usually does), the decision is wrong. End of story. No room for argument – “I’m right, you’re wrong, now piss off.” Perhaps he’s right (I’m “fencing” this one), but surely he’s slightly swayed because he’s Chairman of the management company representing Pietersen…

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