You know what really gets me…

…about the whole Ashley Giles selection is he has been vilified for being him. By everyone. Me included, and it’s pretty unfair. Those selected can’t help being selected. Therefore, just to reiterate, it is the selectors’ fault – not helped by Giles’s inadequacies of course, but he can only do what Ashley Giles can do…as he memorably said in 2005. Will hates people who talk in the third person. He finds it stupid and embarrassing.

If you went to a fish restaurant and ordered the chicken, you can’t expect it to be the best piece of poultry you’d ever tasted. And that’s not the chicken’s fault…it’s Fletcher’s for not choosing the cod.

Anyway, just a small point there. I’m fully aware I’ve just compared Giles to a chicken and Monty to a piece of cod. Apologies to both.

My other gripe is about Monty. He’s clearly buzzing and (unless Fletcher has a death wish) ought to play at Perth. But the pressure he is now under is approaching boiling point. He is England’s saviour apparent. 10 wickets beckon, even a knighthood. But Australia will come at him, hard, right from the off. So let’s hope he can hold his nerve, adjust his pace and loop accordingly, and see what he’s made of.

Also…Mahmood should play. In fact, go on then, what’s your XI for Perth?

Are you Ashley Giles in disguise?

No, not you – Nathan Deakes. This gem from the Tonk:

Ashley Giles and Nathan Deakes

One of them participates in what might be called the most pedestrian of sporting pursuits — the other is a race walker. Ashley Giles, England bowler, has never been seen in the same room as Nathan Deakes, walk record holder and no relation to a famous Australian marathon runner sharing the same surname. After the walker’s face was splashed across newspapers during the Adelaide Test, it is believed England coaching staff hit upon their most cunning substitution racket yet, hatching a plan to switch Giles for Deakes in the third Test, reasoning no one would notice and it couldn’t be any worse.

Ashley Giles the Borat of Spain

Oh it’s cruel, it’s painfully cruel

Ashley Giles is Borat

Courtesy of The Ashes Blog who provide the following reasons Ashley Giles should continue playing for England:

1. He makes James Anderson look threatening.

2. His bowling average is almost as good as Matthew Hayden’s batting average.

3. As the Personal Life Coach for Ricky Ponting, Ashley Giles felt that the Australian captain was in desperate need of a bit of encouragement, so he sacrificially dropped that catch on the boundary. But that’s just the sort of kind, generous guy that he is.

4. His Royal Highness brings a certain amount of class and dignity into the England team. Well, they need to make up for Kevin Pietersen’s presence somehow.

So please, keep Ashley playing, and make benefit glorious King of Spain.

All very 1990s

We arrived at work fully expecting a pleasantly dull late-night’s work, the blinkered bastards that we are. In a few hours, the game would be drawn and we could all go home and sleep until the next Test. But in a few hours, England jumped in their time machine and rewound to the early 1990s.

Apparently before the final day’s play, England’s bowlers didn’t even have a proper net. It was all about the batting, all about saving the game and, in that respect, they lost it spectacularly before a ball was bowled. This was England diluted. A very good team were made to look absolutely ridiculous – or rather they made themselves look like that. There seemed to be a clear plan not to score any runs in the morning session. None. Block it. Block it or get out but for God’s sake, don’t score any runs. It was classic 1990s and brought a reminiscant tear to our eyes.

England are back!

No, it’s not all that bad. One bad session does not a bad team make, as that old expression doesn’t go. But we have just lost the Ashes. Rather, Ashley Giles has lost the Ashes. We were quite cruel to him on commentary at Cricinfo – honest might be more accurate – but it was always deservedly earned. England selected him purely for his apparent multi-dimensional skills but he failed in every department. He bowled like a drain, batted like a rabbit and fielded like a pensioner.

After a blushing defeat, Duncan Fletcher still insisted he needed a No.8 who could hold an end up – “just look at what Shane Warne did with the bat” he cried, hopelessly. Nasser Hussain often says Fletcher very rarely makes a mistake, however blinkered his decisions might be. Picking Giles for this series is the worst, most short-sighted decision he will ever make and has cost England the series.

Only miracles from Monty, Harmison and Pietersen can save England now.

Live: Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide, 3rd day

The third day from Adelaide. England are in a terrific position, but the pitch remains flat and they only have the one spinner. No pressure, Ashley Giles…or Steve Harmison for that matter. It’s up to those two to produce something special.

Fast, and not so fast, bowlers

There’s been more ink and bytes spilled on the Steve Harmison issue then any other English player in the last week or so then I can remember. Given that so many English hopes rested on his shoulders, that is understandable.

Jagadish crunches some numbers on Harmison. Meanwhile, his fellow fast bowlers escape scrutiny.

England’s other bowlers deserve some stick as well. Matthew Hoggard is an honest toiler, but he will struggle in Australian conditions. The lack of reverse swing has gone a long way to de-fang him. And, let me make it clear, it would have de-fanged Simon Jones as well, if he had been here. There might have been a few less half volleys, but it is wishful thinking to think that England’s attack would be much more dangerous with Jones about. At best, he might have stemmed the tide.

Since Jones is not around, England called upon two younger sorts. Jimmy Anderson got the nod at Brisbane, and he was mediocre. His bowling figures reflect that too. He was not able to bowl a consistent line or length to develop any pressure on the batsmen and Australia’s batsmen just waited for the bad balls and picked him off.

And there’s no excuse for that- his performance was barely worthy of first class cricket. Anderson needs to stop worrying about his hair product, get a copy of his Brisbane pitchmap, and get his arse in the nets and start working.

He certainly doesn’t deserve a place in the Adelaide Test but he might get it; the only other pace alternative is Sajid Mahmood. I saw Mahmood in the first game of the tour against the Prime Minister’s XI, and he was even worse then Anderson. If England seriously bring him into the XI for Adelaide, it will be Christmas come early for the Australian batsman.

Much more likely is the introduction of Monty Panesar. I’ve not seen him bowl except for highlights, but everyone that has seen him was surprised that he wasn’t included at the Gabba. From what I can tell, England’s best option is to include both spinners, and rely on Flintoff to attack with short sharp bursts, including the new ball.

Giles is not regarded as a serious wicket-taking options, but he does have the merit of keeping it tight. That is a handy virtue to have while Panesar is attacking at the other end. It is a huge ask to Panesar on Ashes debut, but England’s bowling plight is desperate, and there’s nothing else for it.

Anyway, that’s my take. Tim de Lisle has his take here. What’s your take?

Monty Panesar or Ashley Giles?

It’s time for another poll. After Monty Panesar destroyed Pakistan yesterday, is he now the English spinner in possession? Should Ashley Giles be recalled if and when fit? Place your votes, now!

Note: you need to visit the website in order to vote. Click here.

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Is Vaughan’s career finished?

The news that he could be sidelined for nine months puts yet another brake on England’s Ashes preparations. Ashley Giles, too, could face further surgery. What do you think? I have a stinking cold so will leave the rather open-ended discussion to you lot. Vote, leave comments, and generally make a nuisance of yourselves. (if you’re reading via the feed / RSS, click here to vote).

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Panesar gives glimpse of full Monty

Now how about that for a headline? Monty Panesar is a tabloid sub-editor’s dream! Anyway, I’d like to agree wholeheartedly with Jag who was delighted to see an English left-armer bowl around the wicket. I know Ashley Giles gets a lot of stick, some of it undeserved, but even he cannot deny that his over-the-wicket tactics have been painfully dull to watch.

I didn’t see a lot of Panesar today. However, what immediately struck me was the similarity between Daniel Vettori. In the piece I wrote for Cricinfo on Monty, Mark Ramprakash said we [England] should be looking to find someone of Vettori’s ability. While it’s too early to suggest Panesar has the same ability – incidentally, he certainly doesn’t have the same talent with the bat which Vettori possesses – he did well today, and looks a decent prospect. It’ll be really fascinating to watch his progression.

Maybe one day he’ll be / reveal the full Monty! (sorry, again)

Ashley Giles doubt for India

Looks like Ashley Giles won’t be fit for England’s tour of India. Ian Blackwell or Monty Panesar? Discuss