England’s Commonwealth Bank Series win completes my misery

I have a toothache from hell. It set in on Friday night, and my dentist can’t fit me in until Wednesday morning. So between that, and England totally outplaying Australia in the one day finals, I have not been a happy little camper. At the moment, I’m taking refuge in alcohol for pain relief. Meanwhile I wonder if Andrew Flintoff is taking pain relief from alcohol. The last time Flintoff was involved in winning a trophy off Australia, his alcohol intake was spectacular. I’m partial to a drop myself, but I have to admit I don’t think I could keep up with Freddy when he’s up for a drink.

Anyway, enough of vices. I asked in my previous post if Duncan Fletcher would have anything to do with the resurrection of English fortunes, and it turns out he did have a bit to say.

Whereas a matter of weeks ago England’s planning for the World Cup almost revolved around picking random names out of a hat, Fletcher now says there is a clear plan heading into the tournament.

“We’ve got a side that have won here and done very, very well and yet we are still missing people of the calibre of [Michael] Vaughan and [Kevin] Pietersen who are two very important players for us, so it’s still going to be very difficult for us [to narrow down the squad].”

“But we’re a lot clearer than we were at the start of this series. We really believe in the side now, four in a row is a great achievement and we’ve just got to continue with that momentum.”

Fletcher, himself, received a special mention as Andrew Flintoff relished his first success as captain. “The one person I really want to thank is Duncan Fletcher,” said Flintoff, “throughout the trip he has kept taking the knocks for us but he has kept backing us.”

While most of the plaudits will go to Paul Collingwood, and rightly so, I think that the emergence of Liam Plunkett also has a lot to do with the turnaround in England’s fortunes. And Monty Panesar has had a role to play too. He hasn’t taken a hatful of wickets, but he’s always kept things tight, and a good spinner is worth a fortune in any form of cricket.

Australia have got some thinking to do. They are in danger of losing their ranking as the best ODI side in the world to South Africa. To me the two issues are that Michael Hussey has lost his magic touch, as well as Symonds’ injury. Michael Clarke could do with some more runs as well. My own view was that White should have replaced Symonds as the batting allrounder. Instead, they’ve chosen Watson as a bowling allrounder, which is fine except that he’s barely had any cricket since the Champions trophy. Bringing him back for the finals smacked of hubris, and hubris gets punished.

My understanding is that Will will be returning from Kenya in the next few days, with plenty of photographs and hopefully some insider gossip about his adventures. For an Englishman’s perspective, be sure to read the Reverse Swing Manifesto (and speaking of which, why hasn’t Troy Cooley done us any good in the ODI’s?) In the meantime, I leave you with one final question before I drown my sorrows. What exactly is the Duckworth/Lewis algorithim? I once heard it described as being so complex as to make Einstein look like a bit of fun with an abacas, but even still!

Athers on Vaughan, captaincy and India

I don’t know where Will is either. Probably drinking or chasing loose women or something. You know how young men run amok these days. Anyway, after a bad effort last week, Athers is doing much better this Sunday, a good column where he interviews Michael Vaughan. They talk about leadership, batting, going to India, and all that sort of thing

Periods of the England captaincy brought on mouth ulcers and sore throats for me. Does Vaughan suffer any physical symptoms of stress? “Throughout the Oval Test I had a lump in my stomach. It was more than just the knotty feeling you get when you’re nervous, and it just sat there and wouldn’t go away. I didn’t enjoy that match at all. I felt physically sick for most of it. I knew we hadn’t got enough runs in the first innings and that it was going down to the wire.”

Vaughan’s great achievement, of course, was to hide all these signs from his team and the general public. He looked as if he was enjoying the pressure and revelling in the occasion. It enabled his team to do the same. The Ashes victory, more than anything else, was a personal triumph for the captain.

Yeah, well, I was feeling physically sick just watching it. Since as an Aussie we were on the losing side, I felt worse afterwards.

And if any readers find Will, can you post bail and return him to work? Thanks in advance.

Fred drinks for England

Great article in today’s Times: Flintoff drinks for England! During the celebrations, it was obvious he was mullered, but the article details the exact quantities. What a champion.

Flintoff booze-watch

6.15pm Champagne

8pm – midnight Beer

Midnight – 4am Gin & Tonics

4am – 7am Vodka & Cranberry juice

7am Beer for breakfast

8am – 1pm Intermittent champagne-swigging

3pm Beer in Tony Blair’s back-garden

Great performance, that. A drinking-session of nearly 21 hours is truly inspirational! And the article ends with this:

Clearly thrilled with helping to bring home the Ashes, he told reporters that he was also being awarded the ancient honour of the freedom of his home town, Preston.

“That means I can drive a flock of sheep through the town centre, drink for free in no less than 64 pubs and get a lift home with the police when I become inebriated,” he said. “What more could you want?”

What are the odds on someone appearing on TV in the next few days, claiming it’s irresponsible of him to be so drunk on national TV? Jonathan Agnew said there was a “broadcasting ban” on interviewing, which he himself found a bit sad. I hope no-one kicks up a fuss about his partying – and if they do, they should be forced to party with big Fred for a 21-hour session :)