Harmison feels betrayed by Fletcher

I asked Stuart Broad for his thoughts on the Duncan Fletcher futore the other day. “Don’t read books,” he announced with a broad smile (sorry). “Not enough pictures!” It was a predictable response, and I applauded his blatant bullshitting.

Steve Harmison, though, doesn’t really care what he says these days – especially if it means coming to the defence of his old chum Andrew Flintoff. Somehow, though, Harmison’s comments don’t carry the weight of, say, Andrew Strauss or Matthew Hoggard. You feel if Flintoff had run over a dog on purpose, before roasting it on a spit, Harmison would say “Andrew has learned his lesson. He might be a canine killer but he’s still great fun to be around; an inspiration. Just ask anyone. Anyone but the dog and its owner of course.”

Nevertheless, his outburst to the Daily Mail made for enjoyable reading and was yet another nail in Fletcher’s coffin. I can’t see how this affair will simply “blow over”. I see Nasser Hussain has also been making comments, in the same paper, about the lily-livered decision makers in the ECB, and their handing jobs to Hugh Morris and Mike Gatting. It feels like 1999 all over again…

Broad shooters

I had a very enjoyable day clay pigeon shooting with Chris Broad and his son Stuart. There were only a few of us there – a media day for Volkswagen – and both of them were on great form. Naturally, although Stuart had never shot before, he beat the rest of us – including Ian Valentine, who writes here, whose full-time job is for the Shooting Times. Photos below (you need Flash installed). A piece will be up at Cricinfo tomorrow or the day after.

I can see me enjoying shooting. It was tricky at first, and I never really got the hang of the “rabbits”. But the faster clays high up in the sky were pretty easy once you “followed through”. And yes, there were loads of cricketing clichés flying about all over the place. West London Shooting School – highly recommend it.

Stuart Broad and Chris Broad clay pigeon shooting

England name squad for Sri Lanka tour

England have named their squad for the tour of Sri Lanka, and it’s pretty much as predicted:

Vaughan, Cook, Bell, Pietersen, Collingwood, Shah, Bopara, Mustard, Prior, Broad, Hoggard, Anderson, Sidebottom, Swann, Panesar.

Some initial thoughts:

1) It’s pretty harsh on Chris Tremlett, who hasn’t really put a foot wrong yet for England. Unless – gasp! – they’re punishing him unfairly for his indifferent one-day form.

2) If the selectors were going to drop Strauss they should have replaced him with another opener, rather than naming three number sixes and promoting Vaughan, who doesn’t even want to open.

3) If both of Harmison’s practice games get rained off, where does that leave him?

4) Either Broad or Swann has to bat at number eight. Which means that, cruelly, one of Anderson or Sidebottom has to sit out. Or both, if Harmison waltzes back into the team. In other words, all three pacemen from the India series could be left out in favour of someone who wasn’t even good enough to make the side at the time. Hmmm.

5) The fact that Mustard has been named in the full squad, rather than placed on standby in Chennai, is hardly a resounding vote of confidence in Prior. Is Mustard, in fact, the reserve opening batsman?

What are everyone else’s thoughts?

Video of Bopara and Broad’s match-winning partnership

What a performance from Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad last night. I missed it, naturally, but have found a video of their brilliant partnership courtesy of crickethighlights.info – do give it a watch. They are the future, and are ridiculously level-headed for their age.

Incidentally, apparently you might need Firefox to watch it.

Bopara and Broad enthrall Manchester

Why am I writing a piece for The Corridor when I’ve got a site of my own? Because I’m still ridiculously overexcited about England’s run-chase yesterday, that’s why.

I went to the fourth one-day international at Old Trafford yesterday and having been pretty comprehensively wowed by Stuart Broad’s and Ravi Bopara’s fightback, I made a point of watching the highlights on Channel 5. As is so often the case, the truncated version didn’t give the full effect. England were down and out. Wickets had fallen fairly regularly all day and with even more haste during England’s run chase. England had scored 114 when the seventh wicket fell, but that seventh wicket had been Paul Collingwood who’d scored the bulk of England’s total. The crowd knew that the game was up, so they did what they always do at times like this: Mexican waves, beer snakes and general merriment. In short, anything but watching the cricket.

So having lost seven wickets inside 24 overs, England then lost none in the next 24. The performance of Broad and Bopara was so impressive that drunk England fans, at the end of the day, when they’d been drinking for the longest, actually put down their beer snakes and watched the cricket in near-silence.

I’ve never seen a crowd do that before.

Live: England v India, 1st Test, Lord’s

So, England are batting first and they’ve chosen Chris Tremlett over Stuart Broad. I’d have opted for Broad and Tremlett, not James Anderson – but that’s just me. Here’s Ceefax, just for laughs, and offer your thoughts below.

All change?

Earlier today, England named their 30-man provisional squad for the ICC World Twenty20. For once, it seems, the selectors have paid some attention to the nature of the format.

There are several interesting inclusions. The sight of Trescothick’s name, for one, will bring some relief to many, although there must be huge doubts over his progression to the final 15. Similarly, there are finally places for those players who have played the most Twenty20 domestically, and have proven themselves capable. After the series of washouts this year, it would have been hard to pick those necessarily most in form, but David Graveney et al seem to have elected for those players that have deployed themselves well over the past couple of seasons. Sir Viv Richard’s call for Darren Maddy, now captain of Warwickshire, has been answered, although there is no place for Nayan Doshi or Samit Patel. Among other ‘specialists’ included are new Essex captain, Mark Pettini, Surrey’s one-year contracted Chris Schofield and the man of the moon ball, Jeremy Snape.

Is it all for show? There are significant figures gone from the World Cup squad: Strauss, Vaughan, Joyce, Mahmood and Dalrymple all miss out. However, there is no real sign that England intend to keep these welcome additions in their final 15. The entire one-day squad that faced the West Indies have been included, although it must be admitted that one incumbant, Stuart Broad, was the most economical seamer in last year’s domestic competition. It can only be hoped that in slimming down the squad in August, the selectors do not show this initial attempt to be a pointless exercise in media quelling.

Who should be in England’s Ashes squad?

It’s very simple: who should be in England’s squad to tour Australia in November? It’s the most important squad announcement since, well, whatever. It’s huge. You get it, we all get it.

Should Jon Lewis get a chance? Has Stuart Broad shown enough? And who will you have as captain; Strauss or Flintoff?

All that kind of thing. I’m not around much today so leave your opinions and let’s work out the squad.

Same old England…

England and limited overs games don’t seem to be a good mix. I wouldn’t like to take anything away from Pakistan, who played the unfamiliar format extremely well, especially when put in the context of what has happened off the field in the last week. However, anyone who has ever so much as glanced in the direction of a Twenty20 match could tell you that 144 after electing to bat is not enough.

I don’t like to appear jaded, though, so instead of listing what went wrong, I’m going to pick up a couple of positives. After several months of shuffling various opening partners around the ever-present Trescothick, Bell’s promotion to number two seemed one of the more convincing attempts to find two styles that compliment each other. Before Bell misjudged a late cut to Younis Khan in a wide slip, the England innings had looked to be fairly secure. Good to see Trescothick find a bit of form. The only other batting of positive note belonged to Michael Yardy, who did well to provide some impetus in the last over.

In the bowling department, it was nice to see my concerns over introducing Stuart Broad to the big stage too quickly seem to have been unfounded. With confirmation that Harmison is going to miss the entire one day series, he is certain to be given another outing tomorrow. Yardy, too, might also make the mark after contributing well to what was a generally good fielding performance by England.

Oh, and, after losing a tooth in the domestic finals at Trent Bridge, I’m glad Chris Read has decided to wear a helmet when standing up to the stumps. But I’m not sure that counts…

Eng v Pak, Twenty20 – who to pick?

In the last week, with the ongoing ‘Ovalgate’ saga, the big media questions on the one-day series have not been the usual deliberations over selection. Now that it seems that there will definitely be a series, with both sides confident that Pakistan will be competing, the next couple of days may bring a resumption of normal service.

There are certainly some potential headaches for David Graveney and company when it comes down to converting their 16-man squad to an 11-man side. It seems unlikely that Ed Joyce will interrupt the ongoing battle for an Ashes place. But with both Collingwood and Pietersen set to come into the team that lost to Sri Lanka at Headingley, it seems likely that one of the batsmen will have to make way rather than reduce the bowling attack. Jamie Dalrymple will retain his place as Fletcher’s favoured spinning all-rounder, and Chris Read must be looking forward to proving he is the best English ‘keeper in the shortest form of the game.

It is well documented that England’s recent one-day problems lie on a foundation of wayward pace bowling. The inclusion of six pace options, with only Harmison and Mahmood retained, suggests that the selectors are trying to meet this head on. But who to pick? Broad and Gough are certainly popular choices in the media, with impressive Twenty20 pedigree. Who do you think should be on Monday’s team sheet?