T 1 E ORICK NOR C F
WORLD CRICKET MONTHLY
APRIL 2009 £3.75
“IT’S BACK TO THE DARTBOARD IN THE ASHINGTON WORKING-MEN’S CLUB”
What it really means for English cricket…
THE ONLYE MAGAZIN WITH HAWKEYE
RICHIE BENAUD, SPRINGSTEEN AND ME… PLUS MEET AUSTRALIA’S NEW HAYDEN
Who should be coach? The candidates speak exclusively to SPIN On the road with England in Barbados Graham Thorpe’s verdict 04
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KEEP DIGGING In the aftermath of the abandoned Test at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua, a groundsman digs sand from the unplayable, makeshift run-ups. Photograph: Gareth Copley/PA
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G LEA DEIN DGE 17.02.2009 UNMASKING
The announcement that US authorities were investigating Sir Allen Stanford over an alleged $8billion fraud sent shockwaves through cricket. Well, ish: in fact, most commentators declared that they weren’t surprised one bit. All the previously stated cases against him – owning helicopter/moustache, preferring T20 to Test cricket, being American and ‘vulgar’ – were conflated into I-told-you-sos. Stanford’s disappearance when the allegations became public didn’t look good – it looked , let’s be honest, comical – and soon the ECB was severing ties. Kevin Pietersen’s News of the World column summed up English cricket’s confused approach. The Texan was a “sleazebag”, quoth KP, while bemoaning the money he had lost on ripped-up personal contracts with the man. Whether KP thought Stanford was a sleazebag at the point he signed the contracts was unclear. 25.02.2009 NON-EVENT
Pakistan’s long-awaited return to Test cricket started slowly: Sri Lanka batted for two days solid, with Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera putting on 437 for the fourth wicket – a Test record. In response, Pakistan skip Younis Khan batted for nearly 13 hours for 313: only two individual innings in history have lasted longer. The first two innings – 644 plays 765, both declared – took the game close to tea on the final day, with each wicket worth an average of 108. And people say Test cricket is dull! Statisticians like this sort of thing. We’re not so sure.
It’s official, then: England is home to world cricket’s two most valuable players. Both KP and Andrew Flinttoff were picked up for £1.1m at the second IPL. Each will receive half the sum as a salary – since the ECB will only let them play for half the tournament. That makes around £180,000 a week – less the 10 per cent due to their counties. The IPL’s previous top earner was India skipper MS Dhoni, on a mere £173,000 a week. 12 SPIN APRIL 2009
01.02.2009 SPAT New Zealand’s Neil Broom was adjudged bowled in an ODI against Australia – only for replays to reveal that Aussie stumper Brad Haddin had knocked the bails off with his gloves. Step forward Daniel Vettori with his finely developed sense of justice, last seen during Collygate at the Brit Oval last summer. “I think you saw from Haddin’s reaction that he knew something was wrong so he probably should have made more noise about it,” said Vettori afterwards, only for the Aussies to spin it all round and made him look like the bad guy. “I think he should better make sure he is 100 per cent right before he comes out and makes these statements,” said Punter. “He is basically calling him a cheat isn’t he? I think that is a bit strong.” “I’m pretty disappointed that he didn’t have the decency to come and speak to me after the game,” said Haddin. “I’m pretty disappointed that he’s questioned my integrity, I think it’s quite poor. I am 100 per cent sure the ball hit the bails first then came up into my gloves.” Poor old Aussies.
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this month’s biggest…
02.01.2009 WHITE ELEPHANT The secondTest at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium in Antigua was abandoned after just 10 balls, as umpires declared the ground, and in particular, the bowlers’ run-ups unplayable.Too soggy, too full of sand, too likely to give way. Exactly why no-one – either from the locally-based West Indies Cricket Board or from the ICC – had spotted the potential for this farce the day or even month before is unclear. SPIN wouldn’t want to be the fella responsible for dragging the name of Sir Viv through the mud/sand on this one. “This,” he said, with brooding menace, “Is not a shot in the foot for West Indies cricket, this is an arrow right through the heart.This is a huge pill to swallow...”
13.02.2009 EMBARRASSMENT West Indies had won just two Test in 30 starts ahead of the first Test at Sabina Park. But Jerome Taylor’s 5/11 skittled England for 51 to wrap up an innings victory, as the tourists failed to make a winning start to a series for the 14th consecutive rubber. Just one of those days for England? Well, it was the fifth time in 15 months that England had been bowled out five times for less than 111. In December 2007, they were all out for 81 against Sri Lanka in Galle; in the very next Test, against New Zealand at Hamilton, they were skittled for 110; at Stanford, they were bowled out for 99 by the Stanford Superstars; at a warm-up game in India 10 days later, they were bowled out for 98; and now this. At least, since the offing of Mooro, there was no-one to say that the team was somehow, imperceptibly, moving in the right direction.
At the time, Monty Panesar’s absence from the England side was being seen as the single key reason why England got thrashed in the 2006 Ashes. Coach Fletcher’s omission of the Sikh twirler was taken as a sign that he was, possibly, losing his marbles. Monty was a national treasure; there was even a perplexing autobiography from the likeable if unforthcoming spinner. But in the West Indies, Monty was dropped for the first time since that 2006 campaign and no-one was very bothered at all, as Graeme Swann – visibly determined, not visibly unforthcoming – took over the spin duties. Criticism of the Montster had taken on something of a bandwagon air; the more so as his last stand, at the first Test in Jamaica, saw him take 1/122 in the match, while Windies spinner Sulieman Benn managed 8/108. And so Monty achieved the complete arc of pro sport – surprise selection, instant acclaim, cult hero, first (ish) name on team sheet, unmourned outcast – in just less than three years. Is this a record?
G LEA DEIN DGE Bush Telegraph
Armpit surgery, hair transplants and throttling…
What IS going on with Australia’s one-time world-beaters? The Bunyip begins Spin’s Ashes countfown…
TALL STORIES Michael Vandort 6 ft 5 The Sirils’ opener is the tallest in Test cricket
! The job of Australian selector is now more stressful than life as Allen Stanford’s accountant, as there is still no clear answer to the spin hole left by Shane Warne’s departure. Beau Casson, Cameron White, Jason Krejza and Nathan
It’s a fact – everyone in cricket is taller than you think. Even Ian Bell. Apart from the little Master, who’s quite small. Obviously. Sulieman Benn 6 ft 7 The West Indies’ slow left-armer is the tallest Test spinner
Ian Bell 5 ft 10 Taller than you’d think (one inch taller than UK national average)
Chris Tremlett 6 ft 7 Hot-and-cold Hampshire pace man is the tallest current England player
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Tony Greig 6ft 7.5 Comm box legend is the tallest-ever England Test player.
! What a difference Clarke in the SCG three years makes. The dressing room. Just three last time Australia set of the current touring foot in South Africa for a party were present in 2006 – Clarke, Ricky Test tour, it was on the Ponting and Michael back of a 3-0 home victory that left no doubt the gap Hussey – so the credit crunch won’t be between the first and affecting the company second ranked sides was substantial. Even more that manufactures baggy greens. embarrassing for Graeme Smith’s XI was the 3-0 home loss that followed, as Stuart Bryce McGain Clark debuted in style. This time the roles are reversed; Australia were toppled at home and face the prospect of losing their No 1 ranking. Even South Africa’s reputation as the top-ranked chokers in world cricket has been superseded, after Simon Katich’s decision to throttle Michael
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Aussie diary / tall stories arrived a day late, a stomach bug led to his missing the firstTest win. It’s likely he’ll play a role at some point on the tour, though.
Hauritz have all been discarded – leading selectors down the slightly desperate route of picking a Victorian legspinner in his late 30’s. But it’s not Shane Warne. Bryce McGain abandoned an IT career in the banking industry
for an even less secure job as Australia’s spinner-of-choice. He was expected to debut in India before being sent home for surgery on his armpit.The hapless twirler (literally) missed the team flight to South Africa and, having
! There was no room in the first Test side for Advanced Hair Studio’s star client, the formerly bald leftarm quick Doug Bollinger, with selectors instead opting to retain medium-fast allrounder Andrew McDonald. His red hair and surname combine to provide one of the better nicknames in the Australian squad: Ronald. He joined Bollinger to usher in a new ‘fast food and wine’ era of Australian
Bob Willis 6 ft 6 Pace legend-turnedgantry-doom-monger is the tallest Sky pundit
Sachin Tendulkar 5 ft 5 But even the Little Master is an inch taller than Aravinda de Silva
Will Jefferson 6 ft 10 The Nottinghamshire opener is the tallest current first-class player
McDonald: they call him ‘Ronald’. Those guys!
cricket at the SCG, but that bizarre combination lasted all of one match. ! Andrew Symonds doesn’t appear to have abandoned the booze and is, for the second consecutive tour, absent from the squad for
Symo: what’s not to love?
Adam Gilchrist 6 ft 1 Tallest record-breaking wicket-keeper of modern era. Probably.
disciplinary reasons. Cricket Australia’s patience with Symonds ran out (again) after he nonsensically slurred his way through a radio interview. At one stage Roy referred to Brendon McCullum, who had just signed with New South Wales to play in the Twenty20 final, as “the lump of shit”. When asked about Matthew Hayden’s cooking, Symonds replied that he takes a “side glance at Hayden’s wife” as “it helps the meal go down amply well”. The interview did not go down well with the Cricket Australia suits, and he was subsequently ruled out of contention for the South Africa trip.
Joel Garner 6 ft 8 The Big Bird. So called because he was big and, er, a fast bowler.
G LEA DEIN DGE NEIL D’COSTA HUGHES’ MENTOR AND MANAGER “The first time I saw Phil bat was for New South Wales in the Australian U17 Championships. He had the pedigree from the get-go and has been the star player of his age group the whole way. I said if you’re going to come to Sydney, you’re going to be in my academy and play for Western Suburbs and I’ll expect you to do everything as if you’re going to reach the top level. “We wrote a plan – and it was for him to take over from Matt Hayden. We had a meeting with his parents when he was 16 and wrote it up then. I said this is how I want you to train, the steps you’ll need to take, how many runs you’ll need to get into first grade, then into the state team – and if we can do all that in the first or second year and make big runs, you could get Hayden’s spot. It’s just unbelievable that it’s worked out exactly like that and you’ve just got to pinch yourself. His dad keeps recounting that four years ago I said to him unless you’re here to replace Hayden, I don’t want you to come to my academy. “I told Phil my foot was not coming off his head – I was going to hold him under the water until everything that needed to be done had been done. We mapped out when he could have time for himself and the rest of the time was devoted to training, because you’ve got to be extremely mentally strong to make it at international level. “He’s a bit of a new age player. He moves around the crease a lot. People say he’s ‘unconventional’ but my biomechanics background makes me look at everything a bit closer and I don’t see him doing anything too differently. He’s very good tactically; he’s scored 60 centuries in his life now, quite a few of them in first-class cricket. And he was only 25 runs off a century on Test debut against a hostile attack in a tough innings. He has a great ability to adjust to conditions and if it takes jumping around and swaying out of the way, then that’s what he’ll do. “He has kept wicket in a few games for Wests and he kept as a kid. He’s a natural keeper and what I’ve said is just to keep your hand in, because he doesn’t bowl so it’s an extra string in the bow. If something happens on tour, he could do the job adequately – and if you saw him keep, you’d know he was a keeper. He doesn’t look like Rahul Dravid keeping, he looks like a keeper keeping.”
SIMON KATICH NSW CAPTAIN, AUSTRALIA OPENING PARTNER “I think the thing Phil brings is class. I know there is going to be a lot made about the fact that he is 20. But I think right from the word go when he made his debut for New South Wales last year, you could tell he was a class act.”
360 MIDDLESEX SNAP UP NEW HAYDEN
Aussie prodigy Phil Hughes is only just 20 but his Bradmanesque stats have just earned him the nod from Australia – and Middlesex 14 SPIN APRIL 2009
Born November 1988. Grows up on banana farm in Macksville, in rural New South Wales, 500km from Sydney. In 2007, hits 100s in first two games for Australia under-19s v Pakistan. Debuts as opener for NSW as 18-year-old in 2007. Hits 51. Averages 62.11 in first season. March 2008: hits maiden first-class ton in NSW win in Sheffield Shield final. Averages 68.78 in second season and is No 2 in the Sheffield Shield run lists. December 2008: passes 1000 first-class runs aged 20 years, four days, 147 days quicker than Bradman. February 2009: replaces Matthew Hayden in Australia Test side.
ANDREW HILDITCH AUSSIE CHIEF SELECTOR “I don’t think it could be a harder debut than against the South African bowling attack away, and that may not be ideal. But when he comes through this, he’s going to have learned so much, so very quickly. We think he’s up to the job. “It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve had to do as a Test selector, picking a 20-year-old player who’s scoring that volume of runs under pressure. We probably haven’t done this since Ricky Ponting. It’s pretty exciting. If it is successful, which we’re sure it will be, it’s going to be a great thing for Australian cricket.”
PHOTO FAIRFAX PHOTOS
ANGUS FRASER, MIDDLESEX DIRECTOR OF CRICKET “It was a unique set of circumstances: I spent two winters playing Grade cricket for Western Suburbs in Sydney, back in 1988/89 and 1994/95. Nick Compton is playing there, by coincidence, this winter; I still have lots of good friends over there. I got an email from one telling me how Nick was doing, and he also mentioned Phil Hughes. This was last October: I considered him as a signing then: we were aware he’d done quite well in his first season but at the time, we already had an overseas player and our batting line-up looked okay. Then it became apparent when Andrew Strauss became captain, we’d see nothing of him and that Owais Shah would either be with an IPL franchise or England – and we’d already lost Ed Smith and Ed Joyce in the close season. So we could do with a bit more strength at the top of our batting order. “The rules have changed: it’s harder for overseas players to come into county cricket now. But Phil has an Italian passport – because his mother is Italian. Without that we couldn’t have signed him: if he was a young Australian who hadn’t yet played Test cricket, we wouldn’t be allowed to. “Is it better to sign an overseas bowler or batter? Well, at Middlesex we won trophies with Wayne Daniel, we won trophies with Desmond Haynes. I suppose the higher quality bowlers are slightly more protected now than they were. Countries don’t want them bowling hundreds of overs, so it’s harder to get a top line bowler on your staff. “So we’re bolstering a young batting line-up by signing a 20-year-old. But Phil’s the best around: the fact that he’s 20 doesn’t bother me. He’s scored nearly 1000 runs in Sheffield Shield this summer, he’s the youngest player ever to score 100 runs in a Sheffield Shield final. It’s exciting. “I haven’t actually seen that much of him, but Phil’s record speaks for itself. I know his agent/coach, Neil d’Costa and other people at Western Suburbs well and they’ve given me excellent character references. There were a couple of other counties after him too: we’re delighted to get him.”
Andrew Flintoff: is he out of control?
SPIN’s star columnist names his choice as new England coach – and flags up the issues on top of his agenda: a split in the camp and a seam attack that’s looking a little toothless job will, I think, come down to a two-horse race between Tom Moody and John Wright – and, for my money, I think Moody will be the No 1 candidate. He’s played in big dressing rooms – in the Aussie side that won the World Cup in 1987 and 1999 – and coached at the top level; he’s calm, he’s organised, he’s good with the media. After what happened with Peter Moores, I can’t see the ECB appointing someone from within county cricket: I think the job has to go abroad. What’s easy for the media to forget is that taking on an international job means uprooting your life and your 34 SPIN APRIL 2009
family: for the ECB, it’s not just fantasy cricket. The top candidates either have to feel that the time is right – or the ECB has to stump up big money to make them an offer that can’t be refused. The game has changed in the last 20 years, so some of the criticism Peter Moores attracted for his large backroom staff was based on ignorance. But I do wonder if he felt he needed to employ a specialist batting coach because he had not played at the top level himself. Duncan Fletcher, for most of his tenure, didn’t have a batting coach. He didn’t need one. But I think Peter Moores needed one because he didn’t have
experience of playing at the highest level. Moores came through the ECB system and he had no particular experience of dealing with big players, either. So he could only coach in a certain way, built round creating an environment rather than technical expertise. These are things England have to consider when they’re appointing the new coach. I do think it’s important that a coach has played at the highest level. Okay: Mickey Arthur, at South Africa, hasn’t played at the top level but he allows Graeme Smith to run the show and works in the background, offering ideas to and generally supporting a very strong group
of senior players. I’m not sure England have a similar group of senior players. At the moment, the England camp looks a little bit shaky to me. Which may mean they need a coach who can offer more leadership and direction and draw on his own international experience, rather than a background ‘facilitator’. THE NEW COACH WILL NOT
have an easy job. Looking at the results in the West Indies, I’m not sure that all is happy in the England dressing-room. The West Indies aren’t pushovers, but, even so, England – playing to their potential and playing as a team – should not be losing series to them.
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THE ENGLAND COACH’S
The inside track on cricket’s big stories ‘If Flintoff plays in the IPL and isn’t fit for the Ashes, he won’t get any sympathy…’ Apart from anything, the IPL is a huge distraction. I said all along that Twenty20 was going to bring us to a point where England would not be able to control its top players – and it looks like we’re here already. Andrew Flintoff’s situation is a cause for concern. He seems determined to go and play in the IPL, even though – at time of writing – he’s not fit to play for England. He says he’ll be fine and, of course, he’s quite within his rights, as his England contract stands. But despite his comeback over the last six months, Flintoff’s fitness is always in and out. He had to come home from the Caribbean early. If he plays in the IPL a month after that and then isn’t fit for the Ashes, he’s unlikely to get much sympathy from the English cricket public. The situation is damaging in terms of overloading our best players when they might be resting ahead of the Ashes. And I just know it will cause divisions in the dressing room too, with half the players going and half the players not. When I was playing Darren Gough and Andrew Caddick were always very competitive with each other. Imagine if Gough were getting a million for going to India and Caddy wasn’t. Things are bound to be said. The players’ focus is no longer exclusively on being the best England team they can be. All this is a contractual matter; it’s not something any
can to get the best out of him? The new regime will certainly have to. He looks as if he’s put a bit of weight on and is struggling in the hot conditions. I’d send him back to training with Newcastle, as he did before his golden series in the Windies in 2004. That was when he was at his fittest and happiest; he was lean, he was quick and he bowled very very well – well enough to become the world No 1, in fact. If people doubt the potential value of a coach in getting the best from a team’s talents, they need look no further than Steve Harmison. We all know he’s got the talent, but he needs the right sort of handling to get the best from it. And that must be high on the to-do list of the new coach. I’M NOT A FAN OF THE
Tom Moody: Thorpey’s choice as the new coach
coach could resolve. Could you, as coach, actually tell someone not to take half a million quid for three weeks’ work? Unlikely. You can’t blame the players: it’s a short career and, while Flintoff may be one of the best earners in cricket already, you can’t blame him or the others for wanting to go there. Stanford was intended to give England players a chance to earn the big money while playing for England – but even then, the players were still negotiating to go to the IPL. I think the only way England could have kept a firm grip was to have doubled or trebled the value of a central contract. That said, it’s interesting to me how many Australians are turning their back on the IPL and saying they genuinely want to put Australia first. Not
just players who’ve been making big money for a few years either: Mitchell Johnson and Phil Hughes, as well as Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting have all said they wouldn’t go. It’s not clear to me why England players are beating a path to the IPL door, while the Aussies – who, man for man, have less money to start with – are generally putting Australia and/or time with their families first. AND THEN THERE’S STEVE
Harmison. England have played on a couple of flat wickets in the Caribbean but I’m afraid their attack looks rather samey to me, especially once Flintoff is taken out. You hear that Harmison has lost his enthusiasm, which seems just bizarre. Has the management done everything it
referral system. It may be that the principle is good and some tweaking would make it work better than the fiascos we’ve seen in the West Indies. But I’m not in favour of it. I don’t think we need it. In cricket, I think you should take the rough with the smooth. That’s why we have umpires. I do think we can make the on-field umpires’ role easier by using the TV umpire to judge noballs: the on-field umpire can then focus purely on the bigger decisions. Bringing in more umpires, just brings in another level of ego or human error. I didn’t get too many bad decisions in my career: Russell Tiffin gave me out at Trent Bridge once when I hadn’t hit it. But I got away with one or two as well. That’s all part of the game. We’re trying to create perfection within sport. But I think sport’s good with its imperfections. APRIL 2008
G LEA DEIN DGE
Ex-England U-19 skipper Moeen Ali on fronting a new series of anti-extremist ads on Pakistan TV
orcestershire batsman Moeen Ali is fronting a new Foreign Office campaign, designed to showcase high-achieving British Muslims in potentially anti-Western areas of Pakistan. Ali is one of the stars of a series of ads to be shown on Pakistani television. The campaign, titled ‘I Am The West’, will also involve a series of roadside posters in the northern regions of Pakistan. It is designed to show young Pakistanis that the west is not anti-Islamic and to
dissuade them from becoming involved with extremists. Ali – who captained England under19s at the 2006 World Cup – appears alongside Sadiq Khan, the Communities minister, and Chaudry Abdul Rashid, the Lord Mayor of Birmingham. If successful, the project will be rolled out to appear in Egypt , Yemen and Indonesia, with Sajid Mahmood and boxer Amir Khan potential stars of future campaigns. “I wanted to show people that Muslims can be successful in the UK
‘I want to show them Muslims can succeed in the UK’ doing in Pakistan – there’s around £500m of development money going into Pakistan this year, for example. “A lot of the feeling in Pakistan is that British Muslims don’t have a great time. But we have Moeen, a young British Muslim talking excitedly about pushing for a place in the England cricket team. We’re saying you could become an MP or a cricketer or a medical student, a police officer… ” The campaign will peak with an event in Islamabad on March 30, though Moeen’s Worcestershire duties will stop him taking part in that. The county will be on preseason tour in South Africa by then, with Moeen looking to step up from a disappointing 2008. “I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in 2008 so I just want to get back on track and keep my place in both forms of the game,” he says. “I want 2009 to be my big year to kick on, God willing.”
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GOOD MORNING, PAKISTAN…
or wherever they are,” Moeen told SPIN. “Wherever you’re from, you can still practice your religion as well as you’d like and be as successful as you want in whatever field you want. That was my real message. “It took quite a few takes and they wanted me to do it in three different languages, so it took a little bit longer than I’d thought. I know urdu but I don’t speak it – and then I also did it in pushto, which I don’t know but which is spoken in Peshawar and the surrounding region. “If I get criticism, I get it. I’m not worried at all. I just wanted to say that Muslims can be okay wherever they are. Killing innocent people is one of the biggest sins you can commit in Islam – if you kill one person, then it’s like killing the whole of humanity – so if this campaign can stop that, then I’m very happy with what I’m doing.” “The media campaign is only a part of the project,” a spokesman told SPIN. “The key part is a series of events in and around Mirpur, Peshawar and Islamabad that talk about the relationship between Islam and the UK and about what the UK is
Moeen / pavilion
Incoming… This month’s new arrivals Mitchell Johnson, Test all-rounder The Aussie left-arm quick hit 26 off one over from Saffer spinner Paul Harris in Jo’burg – an Australia Test record. The No 9, left unbeaten on 96, was only denied a maiden Test century because he ran out of partners. In Brett Lee’s absence, Johnson has been the Aussies’ spearhead this winter and a Test batting average of 31 suggests he is not just a lower-order havea-go swisher – but on his way to being a genuine all-rounder.
India’s new kit India kicked off the year in which they defend their ICC World Twenty20 title by unveiling a new kit with a catwalk show in Mumbai. The dark blue shirt and trousers combo is the result of “extensive research by designers”, say makers Nike, while the stripey graphics “represent speed and motion.” Amazing what they can do these days, no? The world T20 champions toasted the new look by losing their first two Twenty20 games to New Zealand, heavily. Research that.
Amjad Khan, England bench regular
For the first time, an England Test The Kent seamer has risen series has seen players given two without trace to be England’s No appeals to the TV umpire per innings. Problem is, the fella with 1 reserve – but he just can’t make the final step. England sent for the TV evidence is not allowed to him to join the ODI squad in India say whether a player is actually when they were 5-0 down (only out. Genius, no? Daryl Harper for the series to be abandoned). was the fall guy in Barbados, taking a hand in Aleem Dar’s Then he travelled back with the Test squad, but didn’t bowl a ball; (below) offing two Windians, legin February he was called over before to (almost) shoulder-high from New Zealand to Barbados deliveries. The technology is KEVIN MISas coverPIETERSEN: for Andrew Flintoff, but good; and the idea of using it is READING THE SIGNS 5/79 in the pre-Test warm-up still good – so let’s hope this hamZeitgeist. didn’t a clue what didn’t getNo, himIthe nod.have But he’s fisted experiment doesn’t it getting was either I spectacularly discredit the idea altogether. ever until closer… misread it. My clumsy attempt at political poker backfired like an Icelandic bank’s lending strategy. I genuinely thought a pair of Vaughanies was a good strong hand. Of course, I should have known that Mooro would play his usual get-out-of-jail Mushies. But how was I supposed to predict that Hugh Morris had a flush of ECB lions that blew us both out of the
Anthony Pope’s Plastic Pavilion
CHRIS GAYLE: SIR VIV’S SANDPIT “It’s fair to say I’m bemused at the fuss over the pitch at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium. So what if it’s sandy? You’re in Antigua! Put your flip-flops on and just bowl a fuller length. The England players and fans come thousands of miles for West Indian sand then complain when they find it. Madness! Still, we managed to get the game on at the ARG and we’ll play the games as if they were over two legs. The scores will simply be worked out on aggregate.”
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JONATHAN TROTT & STEPHEN MOORE ENGLAND HOPEFULS How close are you to playing for England? Moore I feel I’m a long way away. I’ve only just come into the set-up and I haven’t proved myself at this level yet. Hopefully a good Lions tour will see me knocking on the door, but as an opening batsman, it looks particularly tough. One of the England openers is the captain and the other is young and very good. But I classify myself as a batsman and I’d like to think I can put pressure on to play anywhere. Pietersen does look pretty nailed down as a No 4 though, doesn’t he? Trott A lot depends on this Lions tour. I’d say I’m as close as anyone right now. I had a good summer and I’ve had a little chance before, which probably helps. Now I know about all the off-field stuff that comes with playing for England and that experience should be beneficial. My first experience of it was a real eye-opener and it’s made me more thick-skinned. I think I’m a better player now anyway but if the chance comes again, I hope it isn’t just in Twenty20. You’d think that making Strauss captain means that another batting spot has gone in the limited-overs sides. What’s been the key moment in your career? Moore I’m not sure there has been one defining moment. People might think that 2008 [he scored nearly 1,500 first-class runs and six first-class centuries] was a breakthrough season for me, but that’s not really how it felt. Yes, I worked on a couple of minor technical things the winter before, but really it was just a case of feeling comfortable off 22 SPIN APRIL 2009
the pitch and starting well. I can’t stress how important that is: I started last season with a century at Edgbaston and it gave me a huge amount of confidence. The key was feeling secure off the field: I was engaged - we had the wedding at the end of the season – and I felt more relaxed than before. My focus was the wedding so it took the pressure off my cricket. I thought it might be my last season so I went into it thinking, ‘Right, if this is it, I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.’ It was a luxurious position. I just played and didn’t think about it too much. Trott Making a hundred on Warwickshire debut [in 2003] was important as it gave me a lot of confidence and showed other people at the club what I could do. It was a pretty strong Sussex attack, including Mushtaq, Lewry, Kirtley and MartinJenkins, but I didn’t know much about any of them, so I just went out and batted. I should probably bat like that more often. Starting last season well was important, too. I made 80-odd against Worcestershire. All my best seasons have come when I’ve got a big score in the first game and, after the disappointing season I had in 2007, it was good to make a good start. Going back a bit further, I was dropped at slip when I had scored just five in my trial game for Warwickshire seconds [v Somerset in 2002]. As it was, I went on to make 245, but had that chance been caught, who knows? I only had one trial game and I didn’t have anything lined-up at any other counties. Leaving South Africa in the first place was a pretty big decision, too.
Who are the best players you’ve come up against in the championship? Moore Eoin Morgan [of Middlesex] looks very good. He has a huge amount of raw talent, he’s young and he will improve. The only thing the county championship lacks is out-andout pace, but there are loads of skilful bowlers out there. Mark Davies [Durham] is a superb exponent of the art of bowling in English conditions. But, if I’m honest, I’ve just not seen a better new ball bowler than Kabir Ali. I’m much happier with him on my side, I can tell you that. Trott Warne was the best bowler and Ramprakash is the best batsman. There have been times when I’ve tried to talk to Ramprakash about batting, but I’m not sure he knows how he does it. Basically he said, ‘I just do it.’ It’s hard to make sense of batting sometimes; I think maybe you learn more by talking to someone who is struggling, as when things are going well it just happens without you thinking. Of the seamers, maybe Chris Tremlett. He’s just so tall. The ball comes out of the press box windows at Edgbaston. You don’t see it. What have been your career highs? Moore Playing in a Lord’s final in my first full season  was fantastic. Winning a trophy with
INTERVIEWS GEORGE DOBELL PICTURES PA PHOTOS
‘ENGLAND? THE WHOLE THING JUST SEEMED SO CUT-THROAT’
Worcestershire [The Pro40 in 2007] was excellent as well. And then there’s the call into the England set-up. This is my first experience of The Academy and I’m enjoying working with some new people – the likes of [ECB batting coach] Dene Hills and [ECB fielding coach] Richard Halsall – and, hopefully, taking my game to a new level. It’s great to have my ideas and thoughts challenged and I feel my game has moved on as a result. The expectations are also greater. Trott Winning the championship with Warwickshire in 2004 was very good. I scored ten 50s and a century. The 2008 season was very good, too. I scored pretty heavily in all forms of the game and to win promotion was great. Maybe, in a way, 2007 ended well, too. I was offered a surprise chance to turn things around on the A tour after the season. Obviously that season did not go well, but maybe you need times like that to make you appreciate things. I wasn’t expecting the A tour at all. I had just arrived in San Francisco on holiday and I received a couple of text messages saying congratulations. I thought it was a mistake at first, but it gave me a great chance to work at my game and that’s where things turned round for me. Career Lows? Moore Probably the summer of 2006. I scored loads of 50s [nine in the championship], but couldn’t get a century. You don’t win games with 70s or 80s. And you don’t get selected for England by scoring 50s. I did question things that season and wonder if I should go and do something else. But I’ve always been able to keep a sense of perspective and I’ve always loved playing cricket. There are highs and lows all the time. Trott Probably my England performances in 2007. I was thrown in and thrown out. It was over incredibly quickly and I didn’t really feel I had the best chance to succeed. Just two innings in Twenty20 cricket. I came in at a time when I had to smash the ball around. I was
drugged to the maximum because I had a broken hand and the whole thing just seemed so cut-throat. I didn’t know the coaches or the players. I had never been on an A tour and I’d never even met some of the guys. Really, half the secret is just feeling comfortable and I didn’t feel comfortable. I was a bit surprised by the media reaction, too. In the first press conference there were about 30 journalists there and the questions came thick and fast. I did an interview with Nasser Hussain just before my debut and his first question was, ‘So, why England?’ I was lost for words, really. It wasn’t what I expected. I felt like saying, ‘Well why England for you, Nasser?’ I should have done, really. Maybe it’s because I’ve never lost my [South African] accent. What would you be if you weren’t a cricketer? Moore I don’t see myself as a journeyman cricketer. I’m not really doing it for a living; I’m doing it because it’s my passion. If I felt I couldn’t play for England then I’d call it a day. I did consider leaving the game at the end of last summer. I had worked in the City, so that was one possible route, and I also considered using my analytical background – I have a degree in engineering – getting my chartership and doing something in that direction. Project management and sports consultancy are a possibility, too. I had a serious look at moving on and I am excited at life beyond cricket. But I feel I’m making progress at the moment, so I was happy to sign a three-year deal at Worcester. Trott I’d have tried to remain involved in sport somehow. My father is a cricket and hockey coach, so maybe I could have done that. I played hockey for Western Province U21s, so maybe I could have played that to a higher level. I’m sorry I can’t play now; there’s just not the time. After my playing career is finished I’d like to go into coaching, or maybe open my own restaurant or coffee shop.
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No-one from the ECB asked him about the England captain’s job. Not that we’re meant to talk about what goes on behind the scenes… but there was nothing. It was more media speculat ion than anything, though it was pret ty encouraging to hear some of the names putt ing me forward as a potential England capt ain. Whether I ever did the job or not, when I finish I’d be pret ty proud of even that! It’s
funny that when the captaincy has come up, twice, over the last year or so, my name has been mentioned and you do start daydreaming and thinking, ‘Could it be me?’ But it’s tough: the first thing you’ve got to have is the respect of your team and if you’re not in the team it’s pretty tough to go in there and lead them straight away. I do think I’ve got qualities that would make me decent at that job but the first thing I want to do is get back in the team. Being skipper means you can do what you want. I’ve worked out that captaincy is quite nice because you get to do the things you want to do, almost. I’m 29 now and it’s nice that I’ve been on a few of these Lions trips – but to be captain and to have an input into what we do is even better. That’s a part of cricket that I’ve really enjoyed over the last couple of years: not just thinking about yourself but thinking about the other blokes in your side. The Lions have this five-week tour then there’ll be a couple of games in the summer where I may or may not get the call; so it’s not that much time to exert a big influence as a captain. But, hopefully, I can influence the five weeks that we are together in New Zealand and get a good reputation for doing that. Our being successful as a team won’t do me any harm.
ROBERT KEY TOLD SPIN THIS MONTH Lions skipper on the top job and England’s ODI woes
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INTERVIEW: DUNCAN RICHARDSTEER, SYDENHAM, PICTURES: PICTURES: PA PHOTOS PA PHOTOS
England doesn’t feel like a closed shop anymore. You feel there is something to play for. One-day cricket is one place where we, as England’s ‘reserve’ team, see opportunity. England haven’t had the best of times in one-day cricket, so a lot of us see that if we go out and play well on this tour in New Zealand, there’s places up for grabs. Things are changing at the top level: there’s a new coach on the West Indies tour and there could be another new coach there in a few weeks time. I think people are aware that if you’re the top runscorer on this Lions trip and you go and attack Powerplays as an opener in one-day cricket and play the spinners well out there, it will count for something. The Lions coaches are in constant cont act with the England selectors so we all feel it will do no harm having a bumper trip, both individually and as a team.
six things / fan of month
He never expected to get into the IPL. Last summer, someone asked me whether I’d like to go in the IPL. I was like: ‘Cor, yeah, that’d be alright.’ Basically, it’s a couple of agents over here who get your name put down on the list. I never really expected anything to come of it. Then at the end of January, a journalist rang to say I was in the IPL auction – but I didn’t really have a clue about it. But I’d have put a lot of money on me not getting picked up in the auction.
THIS MONTH DAN DEJESUS
‘I blogged across India’
SPIN England players need to play more Twenty20. The ideas that have worked for us at Kent are quite simple: bat well, bowl well, get the best players in that you possibly can, get your skill levels up – all these phrases you hear – get the best death bowlers you can. We’ve been very lucky at Kent: we’ve got Azhar Mahmood and Yasir Arafat and you look round the country in county cricket and a lot of the death bowlers are overseas (or Kolpak) players. The thing that Twenty20 does is highlight your skills: they have to be a bit tighter. You can’t miss your yorker by a couple of inches; you have to be dead on. Blokes have got more intent and, because the ball’s a bit harder, they can hit it further. I’ve never been a big one for these Twenty20 ‘specialists’ that England had a couple of years ago. But I do think the England players need to play more Twenty20. County cricketers now play more T20 than the England guys. Hopefully, all these England players will get a chance to play more T20, and they’ll find their game improving. I certainly did. When you first play T20 you think it’s a slog, but the more you play, the more you realise there’s a method to it as a batter and you’ve got to find a way of scoring boundaries. If you can’t hit it over the rope, you’ve got to find another way. And the only way to do that is by playing it. Hopefully, having more players in the IPL will put England in good stead when it comes to the ICC World Twenty20.
*DUE TO THE PARTLY BOOZE-RELATED PRIZE, THIS COMP IS ONLY OPEN TO THOSE 18 AND OVER. SORRY, YOUNGER READERS
England are short of spinners but not seamers. I think Adil Rashid is a fantastic bowler and a serious batter as well. But there don’t seem to be a huge amount of spinners around. We’ve got Gareth Batty in the Lions squad, who’s a fantastic spinner, but he’s been around as long as I have. You look around and ask yourself what young spinners are coming through. The quick guys – the Saj Mahmoods and people like that – have been in the set-up and are now coming back and I’d like to think they’re coming back a bit more wily now, not quite as raw. We had a lot of guys in Duncan Fletcher’s era – like Liam Plunkett – who were picked very very young and kept in the England set-up and didn’t actually play that much cricket. Now you’ve got these blokes coming back, a couple of years savvier from count y cricket. So they’ve got to be better cricketers now than when they were picked for England originally.
hair c m Ar n of h fa ont m the
DDJ (left) and partner in crime Hugo ‘take’ India
Hapless skiver and India tour blogger Dan Dejesus puts his life through the SPIN lens I show my love for cricket by… Playing for Gardeners CC in South London and practising at every available opportunity. If I ruled cricket… Ensure the survival of Test cricket by introducing lights so no time is lost to bad light and people can watch live cricket after work. Prize cricket possession… The ‘Viru’ cricket bat we bought in Delhi for two pounds and then used across India last December, playing in train stations, bus stations, the airport, alleyways! See our blog at: www.cricketandcurry.blogspot.com Strangest thing that’s happened to you relating to following cricket? Being interviewed by Indian television news about our trip across India with the Viru. Best pundit? David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd Strangest cricket thing that has happened to you? Pulling a sickie from work for my first visit to Lord’s for the England-Sri Lanka Test in 2002. Little did I realise that my manager wasn’t feeling well and decided to go home early, only to turn the TV on and see me cheering a boundary with a pint of Pimms… When I went back to work I got a serious rap over the knuckles. Favourite ground? Newlands… Table Mountain as a backdrop has got to be one of the most impressive sights in any city. Plus you have the bonus of SA Breweries just outside the ground, with the smell of barley and hops to tempt you down to Castle Corner and a few beers as the game goes on. Other highlights? Meeting the England team in Christchurch after an ODI v New Zealand. Having a few beers with Stuart Broad and Owais Shah… sound, level-headed guys happy to have a chat about the game with fellow cricket fans.
Appear here and win prizes. Stake claims at email@example.com
IN ASSOCIATION WITH
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PAKISTAN’S These are first shots of the Dubai Sports City cricket stadium – the newest and largest neutral cricket venue in the world. With Pakistan unable to play at home, they are set to host two ODIs against Australia here in a five-game series, starting in late April. Facilities are being described as – can you guess? – state of the art, with 350 roofset lights replicating natural sunlight for day-night games, and casting no distracting shadows on the field. Dressing room facilities, currently being completed, will be in the luxury bracket. Though the 25,000-capacity stadium is privately owned, the ICC, whose HQ is nearby, has been consulted closely at every stage, so Antigua-style farce is strictly off the menu. The stadium’s owners have also been in talks with every major Test-playing nation, as well as county and state teams, about staging future games here. The longterm ambition is to stage World Cups and Champions Trophies, possibly – like this Pakistan-Australia series – in conjunction with Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed stadium. In the meantime it’s hoped that a programme of one-off T20 events, combined with a programme of concerts, will soon be unveiled. Pakistan cricket bosses have, however, said they will, if necessary, play their scheduled 2010 Test series with Australia at a series of possibly less exotic venues – across England.
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PICTURES: PA PHOTOS
HOME FROM HOME
dubai / stats BC0CB<0682
Is Shiv Chanderpaul the best batsman in the world? If youâ€™re playing for time, send for Shiv: since the start of 2007, Windiesâ€™ rock Shiv Chanderpaul has been out 18 times in Tests and faced 3733 balls â€“ an average of 207 balls per completed innings. Think about that: teams have to bowl an average of 36 overs at him before they can expect to get him out. While Mike Husseyâ€™s career b.p.i is 117 and Rahul Dravidâ€™s is 124 , The Crabâ€™s stickability in recent years has been phenomenal: over the last four years his average is 137. Compare this to world cricketâ€™s other limpets: Mohammad Yousuf 105 , Ashwell Prince 104 and Alastair Cook 94 donâ€™t even come close while Englandâ€™s grafters and flair men are also come and gone in a flash: Andrew Strauss uses up 88 balls per innings and Kevin Pietersen 81. But does Chanderpaul have anyone at the other end as he plays for a draw? Er, no: skipper Chris Gayleâ€™s innings 70 are barely half as long and even Ramnaresh Sarwan 93 is barely in the same league. ALL STATS CORRECT TO MARCH 3
THE BIG MATCH ENGLAND IN BARBADOS
New England A
t wasn’t meant to be this way. This was supposed to be a rehabilitation tour for England. West Indies have not won a series since 2004 – and that was against Bangladesh; the last time England were here they won 3-0. But things haven’t gone according to plan. Shot out for 51 in just 200 deliveries in Jamaica, England went one down and were unable to convert dominance in Antigua into victory. They need to win here in Bridgetown if they are to win the series. They’re not full strength. Flintoff misses this game with a hip injury and Prior has returned home to see his new baby. And, while the players and their families are booked in at The Hilton, Kevin Pietersen is staying separately at Royal Westmoreland, fuelling speculation that he’s still licking his wounds in the aftermath of his sacking as captain.
Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss may have been thrown together in far from ideal circumstances, but with each day that passes they seem to be building a new-look team. It may be a team of limited ability, but it’s a tough, wholehearted bunch and there’s no longer any room for those who go missing in action. Certainly there is a sense that the new management are losing patience with Harmison and Panesar. While Harmison bowled with some hostility in the nets, Panesar’s performance at fielding practice was quite dreadful. At one stage he missed eight in a row when the team were practising ground fielding, with each of 36 SPIN APRIL 2009
Flower’s requests for “two more, Monty,” met by fresh failures. When Panesar did finally lay his hands on the ball, he threw it at least 20 yards over the coach’s head. There are, at least, signs that Panesar is working on extra variation. He unveiled a ‘doosra’ in the warm-up game before this Test and is also working on a more effective armball. With Adil Rashid still deemed too raw, however, Panesar is not too far from a recall. The West Indies have a few problems of their own. They remain overly reliant on three batsman (Gayle, Sarwan and Chanderpaul) and, in persisting with Daren Powell, have illustrated just how bare their fast bowling cupboard must be. They could do without their fringe players getting themselves into disciplinary trouble. I went down to the Three Ws Oval to take in some first-class cricket between the Leeward Islands’ and the Combined Colleges and Campuses, only to find that Runako Morton was up to his old tricks. Remember Morton? He was the one who shoulder barged James Anderson. And the one who was arrested in connection with a stabbing. And expelled from the national academy. And, my favourite, the one who pretended his
‘There’s a sense the new management are losing patience with both Harmison and Panesar …’
grandmother had died so he could miss the Champions Trophy. Anyway, he’s been in trouble again. Despite being promoted to captaincy, he remonstrated with an umpire before coming to blows with a team-mate. Some things never change. Meanwhile huge queues have built up around the Kensington Oval each day in an attempt to secure tickets. With only two booths open, spectators have been obliged to wait for several hours. At least one person has fainted. The local authorities have responded to the situation by chastising the supporters for leaving their ticket-buying to the last minute. Great to be valued, isn’t it?
Home from home (Day 1)
For many years, the Kensington Oval was the heart of West Indies cricket. It was their stronghold. They were invincible here for 60 years (until England won in 1994) and the atmosphere, fuelled by passionate local supporters, was intimidating for the tourists. No longer. Today England supporters – at least 11,000 of them – outnumbered the locals in vast numbers and England’s batsmen prospered against an attack that – the admirable Fidel Edwards apart – looked distinctly ordinary. Strauss has rarely batted better. Nothing typified his aggression more than the way he went to his century, with a huge slogsweep for six. His approach even emboldened Cook, who hit just his second six in Tests, and the pair added 229: the highest of their six three-figure opening stands and the highest England opening stand against West Indies. “If the captain
PICTURES: PA PHOTOS
Andrew Strauss’ rebirth as England captain has not been easy. George Dobell joins the team in Barbados to assess how far they have to go
Ravi Boparaâ€™s maiden Test ton in Barbados was reminiscent of Viv Richards
THE BIG MATCH ENGLAND IN BARBADOS
Lucky escape: England skipper Andrew Strauss avoids injury despite edging a Jerome Taylor bouncer into his helmet
Ryan Sidebottom was not at his best. Fidel Edwards (opposite) bowled with hostility and pace but without luck
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wants the team to play in a positive way, it’s important he does that himself,” Strauss said afterwards. West Indies’ complete inability to catch didn’t do any harm, either. Meanwhile Harmison, described as “very disappointed” at his omission by the captain, has asked to discuss his future with Strauss. “Andy Flower told me I was being left out because I was not bowling quick enough nor was I hostile enough for what they wanted,” Harmison said. “I need to know what I have to do to win back my place.” Umm, how about bowling fast and with hostility again, Steve?
First of many (Day 2)
Last summer, after Ravi Bopara scored a double-century in a Friends Provident semifinal at Grace Road, the Leicester CEO KD Smith remarked that it was the finest limited-overs innings he had seen since the retirement of Viv Richards. Words that, at the time, I found somewhat over the top. But I now know what he means. Maybe it’s the swagger; maybe it’s the way he hooks almost every short ball, but Bopara’s batting does evoke memories of Richards. This will surely be the first of many Test centuries. It was not all plain sailing. After ducks in his three previous Test innings, he was dropped early and sported a black eye at the post-play press conference after being struck on the helmet by an Edwards bouncer. Bopara later admitted that it was the fastest, most hostile, spell he had ever faced. He also explained his Usain Bolt style celebration, stating “we’re in his country, so why not pay respect to him”. No-one had the heart to tell him Bolt is Jamaican. Paul Collingwood and Tim Ambrose also played fine innings. Collingwood, who has a party of 40 family and friends here, selflessly fell just short of a century as he sought to up the pace, while Ambrose proved his point with some style. When he was dropped before scoring, many in the press box had their knives sharpened, but he’s a bit better than many realise and this innings was probably the most fluent of the entire game.
X-rated (Day 3)
Today should have been all about Ramnaresh Sarwan. Instead, it’s all about the umpiring and, in particular, the referral system. Based on the evidence of this game, it simply doesn’t work. Far from taking human error
‘Ravi Bopara said Fidel Edwards had bowled the fastest, most hostile spell he had ever faced…’
out of the equation, it’s provided a new way for the umpires to look ridiculous. So, bad system or bad umpire? I’d lean towards the latter. If Daryl Harper couldn’t tell that the ball that struck Chanderpaul was going over the stumps by six inches, he really should think about another line of work. Brendan Nash and Chris Gayle had some reason to rue their dismissals, too. Both were, at best, 50-50 calls and upon the dismissal of Nash, the West Indies coach and manager, John Dyson and Omar Khan respectively, stormed from the dressing room to “clarify a few things” with match referee, Alan Hurst. “This is a trial system,” Hurst said later. “And some days you get good decisions.” Oh, that’s alright then. The ICC are also the targets of much criticism. Why, people ask, are they not fully utilising the Hawkeye system? The TV umpire can see only where the ball hits the pad; and not Hawkeye’s predictive graphics. At least the referral system has reduced the amount of on-field dissent. Whether two unsuccessful referrals an innings is enough (Duncan Fletcher originally suggested three) remains to be seen, or whether it is applied quickly enough (Harper took seven-and-a-half minutes to reach one decision), but it does seem to add to the drama of the day. The performance of Ryan Sidebottom is gaining increasing attention. He appears to have lost some pace and gained some weight. And in the field he’s moving like a tortoise. An asthmatic tortoise. An asthmatic tortoise delivering anvils. To see the West Indies lower-order thrashing him around Bridgetown was painful to watch. Nor did it endear him to his team-mates; Swann let him have a fearful torrent of abuse when Sidebottom’s misjudgement resulted in the third boundary in an over for Ramdin. Ian Bell also looks thicker around the middle. Months of bulking up in the gym have resulted in a physique resembling Jacques Kallis’ and some concern about Bell’s fitness. He has taken to running between the ground and the hotel in sweltering heat to shed the excess. Even so, he’s gone from fixture of the middle-order to second or third replacement in the space of a few weeks.
Pitch imperfect (Day 4)
Ran over a cat on the way to the ground. Turns out it had a better day than I did. Christ, this was dull. Oh, I know that Sarwan and Ramdin performed admirably (their stand of 261 is the West Indies’ third highest sixth-wicket partnership in Tests and their overall total – 749/9 – the West Indies’ third highest total), but this game has not offered a fair contest between bat and ball. It has offered little drama; little entertainment and very little incentive to watch. Pitches like this will kill Test cricket.
‘I HAVE SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS’ TIM AMBROSE With Matt Prior returning home, Tim Ambrose came in as England’s keeperbatsman for the first time since August. “I’ve never experienced anything like the media criticism I copped last summer and it is pretty hard to deal with. I tried to avoid reading the papers or watching the TV but you can’t, really. Even if you don’t read the papers, other people will say to you ‘Take no notice of what they said,’ so you realise what’s going on. “A lot of us [in the England dressing room] have experienced it and we all know it’s over the top. I guess it’s easier to say things are either brilliant or terrible and there’s nothing in between. “Fortunately, in Ashley Giles, I have the perfect person to talk to. In many ways I attribute my return to form to him. He’s experienced it all before; the highest highs and lowest lows and he’s given me great advice on the emotional stuff you go through. “Basically it’s about focusing on my job, ball by ball, and not worry too much about the bigger picture. I accept there were times last summer when I wasn’t at my best. But I was pretty happy with the way I played. I thought my keeping was pretty good all the way through. I don’t want to make excuses, but I was batting out of position a bit. One-day cricket is about knowing your role and I’ve worked hard on batting at five. It’s quite hard to then find yourself somewhere else. “I do feel I have a bit of a point to prove, particularly in limited-overs cricket. I don’t think people realise that I’m a good player of spin, either. But the only way I can show them is by playing, so this is a fantastic opportunity. I’ve some unfinished business. In terms of excitement, it feels like I’m making my debut all over again. But I know what to expect this time so I’m more confident than before. “I’ve been with this group of players for the last couple of winters and feel very comfortable in this environment. “It’s funny how my career and Matt Prior’s seem to be so closely entwined. The last few months have brought us closer than ever. We were both competing for the spot at Sussex and now we’re doing the same thing for England. “We both experienced similar things – being in and then out of the team – and I find myself talking to him about things I wouldn’t say to anyone else. It’s been really good working with him and, even if our careers take different routes in the future, I’m sure we’ll remain friends.”
THE BIG MATCH ENGLAND IN BARBADOS
‘THE ENGLAND PLAYERS WERE GREAT…’ BARMY ARMY Katy Cooke (Barmy Army secretary) “The Kensington Oval is probably the best ground in the West Indies, but it is the best of a bad lot. In the run-up to the last World Cup, the ICC systematically ruined all their grounds. Yet, despite that and the recession, we have still sold over 1,000 tickets. There are 11,000 England supporters at this game. World cricket can learn from that. The ICC should stop wasting money on one-day rubbish and realise that Test cricket is where the money is. It’s what people like best. The one good thing that came out of the abandoned game in Antigua was the way the England players were. They were great. They came out straight away and talked to the supporters. And not in a stage-managed way, either. They started conversations, had their pictures taken and talked for quite a long time. It’d be nice if someone else – the ICC or the WICB – said sorry, but it seems that isn’t going to happen. “One of the players suggested the Barmy Army have a game of beach cricket on the pitch. We said we would, but only if the players sat in the stands watching and making up songs about us. “It’s inevitable the number of travelling supporters will fall next winter. People booked this tour before the recession started. And they’re not going to miss the Ashes, either. But we do expect considerably fewer supporters in CapeTown next year.” Paul Winslow (press officer) “I don’t think anyone will take legal action after what happened in Antigua. Although people were very angry after the first day, we did enjoy a really goodTest in the end. I guess it says something about West Indies cricket that they can’t organise a Test with two years planning, but give them two days and it’s great. “We have to give them credit for staging a great game at a great ground with only two days’ notice. But the situation should never have arisen. “We have been able to get refunds on the face value of the tickets. Not everyone was able to stay on, of course, and we weren’t able to refund the taxes on the tickets – which pretty much double the cost – but there was a sense of ‘Britishness’ about the whole thing and I don’t think anyone will pursue it. “It was a ridiculous situation. It took them 40 minutes to even announce that the game had been abandoned and they gave no further information after that.” 40 SPIN APRIL 2009
‘Are England’s bowlers toothless? They do cling to the ‘dead pitch’ theory a little too readily’ The explanation for the pitch given locally is the ‘crop-over festival’ in August. After a series of events at the ground, the pitch needed to be reseeded. Clearly the results are not ideal. England would be wrong to simply hide behind the pitch as an excuse, however. Their attack is worryingly toothless. Anderson has worked hard and at least demanded respect, while Swann ended with a five-wicket haul for the second consecutive match. But, barring a return to uncovered wickets, attrition seems to be the best we can hope for. It looks as if Sarwan could thwart them with a toothpick. He has now scored 107, 94, 106 and 291 in consecutive innings against England. At 28 he finally seems to have found a way to fulfil his undoubted potential. When asked whether he thought pitches like this were good for cricket, he replied “I love them.” He also rated Anderson as England’s best, and fastest, bowler.
Going through the motions (day 5)
It perhaps best describes the entertainment on offer to admit that the best moment of the day came when a journalist became locked inside the press box toilet. They were stuck for some time before anyone noticed and it took even longer to free them. For some reason the police demanded “total silence” and then knocked the door down with a sledge-hammer.
Nothing so interesting to report on the pitch. Cook completed his first century for 14 months, becoming the youngest Englishman to 3,000 Test runs. But this was a soft innings; there was never much chance of West Indies forcing victory. Though Edwards beat Cook repeatedly early on, batting was comfortable once the shine wore off the new ball. Without the Barmy Army, matches like this would be utterly devoid of atmosphere. Many stayed to the bitter end and it was nice to see the West Indies players, led by Gayle, responding to their chants. After the Antigua fiasco, the tragedy in Mumbai and the shoddy way they have been treated here, it would be understandable if the supporters refused to spend more money following England. Fortunately their loyalty appears boundless. Cricket is much the richer for it.
Either England play on a lot of very flat pitches, or their attack is toothless. Maybe it’s both, but they do seem to cling to the ‘dead pitch’ theory a little too readily. Collingwood believes the balls are to blame, losing their shape and hardness too quickly. Actually, England enjoyed a fair bit of luck in this match. Several umpiring decisions went their way, while they also benefited from dropped catches with Strauss (on 50 and 58), Pietersen (on 20), Bopara (on four) and Ambrose (before he had scored) all reprieved. Had all those not especially tough chances been taken, England would surely have failed to reach 350 and would have faced a tough fight to save the game. And yet, despite the results, there is a sense of a team moving in the right direction. Flower and Strauss have both impressed, with the former confirming that he will apply for the full-time position of coach. Strauss describes Flower as “excellent” and even Pietersen, who a few weeks ago was calling for Flower to be sacked, is impressed. “He is a totally different bloke without Peter Moores around,” Pietersen said. “I didn’t always see eye to eye with him when I was captain but he has changed now he is in charge. He’s really opened up. Now he is able to stamp his authority on things. He lets people do their own thing in preparation if they want to and has been really well received. I’ve been really impressed with him – he is doing a tremendous job.” As a result Flower has emerged as favourite to claim the job on a permanent basis. David Collier’s position is less secure. The ECB’s chief executive is in growing danger of becoming the scapegoat for the Stanford affair. He may yet survive the coming weeks, but there is a build-up of resentment against the ECB hierarchy and it seems unlikely that chairman Giles Clarke will be the one to go. Collier’s position looks increasingly tenuous.
Ramnaresh Sarwan on his way to 291 at Bridgetown. Opposite page: Alastair Cook hit his first Test match ton since December 2007
WHO’S NEXT?ENGLAND COACH SPECIAL
42 SPIN APRIL 2009
Within months of the Ashes, a rebuilding England are looking for a new coach. Who is the right man for the mission? SPIN sizes up the job – and hears from some of the candidates
PICTURES: PA PHOTOS
et’s get one thing straight from the start: England are going to appoint a new head coach and he’s going to have a support team and they’re probably going to use computers and have specialist back-up staff. That’s how international cricket works these days. Peter Moores’ regime drew criticism for its dressing room crowded with coaches. Did England, critics asked, really need a backroom staff of 13? Turn the question on its head: South Africa, the No 1 team in the world and recent conquerors – away from home – of both England and Australia, have a backroom staff of 10. Should they think about getting rid of them? There weren’t too many critics queueing up to deride specialist coaches when Troy Cooley or Allan Donald were working with England’s fast bowlers. Times have changed. There are more off-field pressures and distractions for modern players; the schedule is more intense. Players – all of them – are expected to be fit and to be firstclass fielders. And all the top teams are using computer analysis. Any team that doesn’t do this is at a disadvantage. Would the 2005 Ashes have been won without detailed analysis of the previously unexplored technical frailties of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist? And fitness: the greatest achievement of Moores’ tenure was the 2007 ODI win in Sri Lanka. England overcame the punishing conditions by doing extra work on their fitness for six months in advance, with strength and conditioning coach Sam Bradley.
ATTEESS D I A D I N D A C E H E TTH
Andy Flower (40)
Currently England caretaker coach Previously World No 1 batter (with career Test average of 51); five years’ county cricket with Essex; England assistant/batting coach (from May 2007) In favour Continuity; liked by players; has played at toplevel more recently than any other candidate; recognised as master batsman Against chief batting coach during underachieving Moores regime; no experience as county/Test head coach
Then again, those who believe the ECB have an obsession with overmanning may have a point when it comes to the selection process for the new coach. The ECB appointed City head-hunting firm Odgers, Ray and Berndtson to manage the process. In itself, it may seem extraordinary that Hugh Morris, managing director of the England team, should be getting someone else in to do his job. The firm declared they would canvass the views of 38 people – including Andrew Strauss, Nasser Hussain and Sir Ian Botham – as they began their hunt. The job description says the coach must have a “deep knowledge of high APRIL 2009
WHO’S NEXT? ENGLAND COACH SPECIAL Left: KP’s apparent frustrations at Peter Moores’ lack of international experience came to a head in India. Below: Duncan Fletcher, a hard act to follow
performance sport” and “a successful track record of working with international sports teams and individual performers.” The post is advertised as ‘Team Director’ rather than ‘Head Coach.’ Both might seem to leave the door open for a maverick appointment, maybe someone outside cricket; a Sir Clive Woodward-style manmanagement guru, perhaps. However, a ‘level 3 cricket coaching qualification (or equivalent)’ is also required. All of which means it doesn’t take a headhunting expert on top dollar to realise that – with John Buchanan and Tom Moody having ruled themselves out – there are no more than five or six candidates in the world.
happened to Pete that they’ll look for someone with international experience.” Nottinghamshire coach Mick Newell has, SPIN understands, thrown his hat into the ring. His side won the county title last year and Newell has brought several players into international cricket in recent years so, all things being equal, the idea is not outlandish. But the ECB are looking for a Capello, not a McClaren this time. The brief’s reference to ‘international sports teams’ proves that. Moores’ experiences will help frame the criteria on which the new coach is appointed. The ECB want to avoid making the same mistakes again. So what was it that did for Moores? 1) He failed to build strong relationships with, SPIN understands, three senior players (Pietersen, Vaughan and Collingwood), which made creating the right team environment – Moores’ trademark – impossible. 2) Players who were promising at the start of his tenure did not seem to have progressed by the end. And 3) indifferent results: by the time of Moores’ exit, England were ranked 5 in the ICC Test table and 6 in the ODI table. The $64,000 question is this: is the team, with the players available, only realistically worthy of being ranked 5 or 6 in the world? Or could the right coach bond a team to seriously challenge Australia, South Africa and India? At this stage, the ECB – and England supporters – have to believe in the second option. At the very least, they have to believe in the ability of the right coaching set-up to get the best out of enigmatic talents like Steve Harmison and Ian Bell; to break up the underachieving cosy club created by central contracts; to blood the right hungry
‘DO ENGLAND REALLY HAVE THE PLAYERS TO BE WORLD-BEATERS?’
Peter Moores’ apparent struggles to command the respect of a minority of the dressing-room, thanks to his lack of Test experience, narrows the field even further. The lack of respect was not necessarily pure snobbery. A captain may prefer a more experienced coach who has been round the international circuit and picked up some strong ideas on tactics and techniques in different conditions, (although ex-Aussie coach John Buchanan managed okay without that advantage.) So the ECB are unlikely to dream of promoting the current head of the Performance Programme – pka ‘the academy’ – David Parsons. And they are unlikely to even pay lip service to looking at county cricket. Even Moores’ friend, the Sussex coach Mark Robinson, arguably the most successful county coach in recent years, acknowledges that. “I’ve been coach or three years and won the county title twice,” he tells SPIN. “But I think it’s obvious from what 44 SPIN APRIL 2009
ATTEESS DA E CANDIID TTH HE
Geoff Lawson (51)
Currently Commentator for ABC Radio Previously Aussie fast bowler; Coach of New South Wales (1995-97); Pakistan coach for 15 months to October 2008 In favour No current coaching commitments; good ODI record for Pakistan (21 wins, 9 defeats) including runners-up in World T20 Against Little experience and success as a Test coach
‘THE COACH’S ROLE NEEDS TO BE REDEFINED’
Mark Robinson, title-winning Sussex coach, on team-building and working with Peter Moores What’s been the secret of Sussex’s success over the last decade? We’re a small club. We’ve based a lot of what we do on confidence and belief and an environment in which every player feels he can achieve: we’ve embraced the idea of a small club. Pete’s strength was him: his character. He gave 100 per cent of himself to the club and to the team. And I’ve continued that. As a coach, you’re trying to leave no stone uncovered. And sometimes you do have issues that need to be dealt with. And Pete would confront those headon: they couldn’t be allowed to fester, because nothing is more important than the team. Since I joined Sussex in 1997 we’ve felt like a proper team – the periods in which we haven’t, we didn’t do so well. But our strength has been sorting out any problems pretty quickly. So the main challenge for a coach is keeping a happy dressing room? Within a dressing room, there’s always huge challenges with characters. My first year, we had three Pakistanis, private school and state school guys, 18-yearols, 30-year-olds, very bright, notso-bright all in one dressing room. The challenge for the coach – and for the group – is to make everybody get on. There will be ego clashes but the challenge is to get things back on track. But you need to have the support of your boss, of your chairman which we’ve always had at Sussex. I’m not saying Peter wasn’t supported by the ECB – but you do need to know that if there’s ever an issue, the
management will back what’s best for the team. How big should the backroom staff be? We’ve always had the smallest professional coaching staff in English cricket: three full-time members of staff. Sometimes that’s a strength – because we feel massively in control of the whole club top to bottom – and sometimes we feel overworked. We do use extra people: last year we had Alec Stewart and a team psychologist for example. The game has got more professional. The knowledge out there to move things forward is immense. You want to embrace that – and keep up with other people – without losing sight of it being a very simple game.
Last year, when Mushy was injured, we still won a trophy. Murali’s played for two counties, Shane Warne’s played a lot for Hampshire; Kumble, Harbhajan Singh have played... and yet their teams have not had the success that Sussex had. You can’t win trophies without star players – but we field a couple of star players and we do better than teams who have six or seven... We bought Mushy when most people were saying, ‘Don’t touch him’. What we’ve done well at is taking people on and reinventing them a bit. Which comes down to team spirit and the environment. If you control the environment and then put in a couple of little gems, that’s where you really win.
What would you say to critics who say that your team ethos would have meant nothing at Sussex without Mushtaq Ahmed? I’d say it was a pretty uneducated comment. Having someone like Mushy in the team does mean you won’t get relegated, but it doesn’t mean you will necessarily win the title.
Test teams have more time to prepare than county teams. Does that make the coach’s job easier? Potentially. But the pressures are different: some of the big players are becoming little businesses in their own right now, so that needs to be managed and watched. Are the players distracted by Stanford
Moores: very accountable, but no power, says Robinson
or their agents or insecurity about their place in the team? Having spoken a lot to Pete, the difference between Test and county cricket is not so much about standard of play as about the scrutiny: every single thing you do is looked at by so many different people. Can you, as a player, cope with that pressure? Can you just ignore all that and then carry on with your game? Were the press unduly harsh on Peter Moores? Pete had some stupid things written about him. He had to deal with the introduction of the ICL and the IPL and the distraction of that... you had a captain in Michael Vaughan out of form with the bat and physically out of nick; Collingwood and Strauss out of form, Flintoff and Harmison out of the mix for a while... and Peter had to work in that situation. But a Premiership manager would have been sacked on that record long before Moores was… Yes, but someone like Phil Scolari at Chelsea was properly accountable. He picks the team. He picks the tactics. So that’s okay. But if you don’t give the bloke the power to pick the team and decide the tactics – how can you then sack him? We’ve had a fudge. I’d love to know why Pete got sacked. Because he wasn’t sacked on results. Even now if you were to ask: ‘Who picks the England team?’ who could answer that with any certainty. Where does Geoff Miller sit in there? Who picked Darren Pattinson? The quote touted around from Michael Vaughan is that, ‘That’s what happens if you just go off stats.’ Which was clearly intended to suggest that Peter Moores picked the team. The England coach’s role needs to be redefined. You’ve either got to make him like a football manager and give him a lot of power. Or make him like the Australian coach and really keep him in the background. But Peter was very accountable without having any proper power. He got blamed for things that were totally out of his control. APRIL 2009
WHO’S NEXT? ENGLAND COACH SPECIAL
England salute supporters after the drawn second Test confirmed a 1-0 series defeat in India in December – the last game of the old KP-Moores regime. Right: caretaker coach Andy Flower is well respected by players
youngsters; to create a team that plays with intent, rather than fear, and expects to win, rather than to collapse. Andy Flower is the man in possession. In the last weeks of Peter Moores’ tenure, I spoke to three top England batsman about
ES ATTES IDA TTH E CANDID HE
Graham Ford (48)
Currently director of cricket with Kent. Previously coach of Natal (1992-1998); coach of South Africa (1999-2002). Turned down India job in 2007, for family reasons. In favour Personal choice of KP; impressive record with South Africa (eight series wins from 11); has helped turn Kent into one of England’s top one-day sides Against Personal choice of KP; Kent relegated in championship in 2008. 46 SPIN APRIL 2009
Flower – and all raved about his input, with an enthusiasm beyond any box-ticking support of a man who might be seen as their boss. Flower has never been head coach of a team before which, according to the ECB’s brief, may count against him. But the players respect Flower as a successful Test batsman who understands the pressures of Test cricket from recent personal experience. And he’s a student of the game; even as a player, he worked hard to improve his own and his team-mates game. Unusually, when well established as an international, the 29year-old Flower spent the summer of 1997 coaching Oxford University. “He is the whole package, from his own mental approach and professional preparation for the game to the culture he brings to the dressing-room,” said Graham Gooch, who bought Flower to Essex in 2002. “He takes time to talk to the younger players and acts as a role model.” Talking to SPIN after joining the ECB Academy in 2006, Flower said he had always considered himself a coach-in-waiting. “Throughout my career, I’ve been searching for answers and searching for the optimum methods to use,” he said. “You talk with older guys and coaches and also with younger players – you’re not actually coaching but you’re talking about the game a lot. I’ve always done that, asking questions, lending a hand, passing on tips. “You pick up little gems from everyone along the way. Graham Gooch at Essex, and, our coaches with Zimbabwe: Dave Houghton, Geoff Marsh, Carl Rackemann…” Flower’s skills as a batsman and a
batting coach are respected throughout the team. “Andy Flower exerted a big influence on me,” says his one-time Essex team-mate Alastair Cook. “I thought the art of batting was trying to steer the ball through the gap when a bowler bowled at you. But I could see Andy’s mind working in a far more involved way than that. He was thinking, ‘If I can play some shots over there and get him to move fielders there, then that will open up that area.” Flower impressed with the quiet, sensible way he handled the caretaker role during the difficult West Indies tour. He commanded respect from the media and even KP – who had previously wanted him axed along with Moores – was reported to have described him as a ‘revelation.’ Flower had a formative role to play in the rise of Ravi Bopara at Essex and is also admired by players who he has only started working with more recently. “He’s a good man to have as a mentor as well as a batting coach,” Ian Bell told me in the winter. “Sometimes in England we look at playing in a very orthodox way – but Andy’s more about being a smart, streetwise cricketer, about being able to manipulate the field where you want it. “He’s a very good technical coach. But guys at this level, if you didn’t already have the technical ability, you wouldn’t be here. The next level is mental and being able to place the ball and take the right options. It’s hard to coach but Andy has the
‘ANDY IS A GOOD MAN TO HAVE AS A MENTOR AS WELL AS A COACH…’
experience of doing it himself and of being one of the best players in the world.” As a young coach Flower would bring the quiet authority of a senior professional to the team. Much about Flower suggests he will step up to be an international head coach at some point – but will the ECB decide that time should be now? Kevin Pietersen’s observation in the Caribbean that Flower was a very different coach with Peter Moores taken out of the equation may be significant. True, the ECB has shown that it won’t be dictated to by the team’s star batter; but they would surely be foolish to ignore his thoughts altogether. Could the right coach make England’s best batsman even better? For any coach who could work successfully with Pietersen, everything else might just fall into place. When he was trying to see off Moores, Pietersen initially endorsed Kent coach Graham Ford, with whom he worked at Kwazulu-Natal before his move to England in 2000. Ford, in turn, went on the record in January as saying he thought he could improve Pietersen as a player. “Kevin and I have had a really good relationship for a long time and I would like to think there’s sufficient respect for him to work with me,” said Ford. “There are a lot of things he’d like to strive for and I’d
ATTEESS IDA E CANDID TTH HE
Dav Whatmore (55)
Currently Head coach at India national academy Previously Two spells as coach of Sri Lanka (won World Cup in 1996); also coached Lancashire, Bangladesh (2003-2007) In favour Only candidate to have won World Cup as coach Against Turned down by ECB in ’99 in favour of Duncan Fletcher; known to favour coaching in Asia – may be hard to get, even if ECB decide he is the man for the job this time.
like to contribute to, and I’m sure it would be a relationship I could develop.” Ford went nine series unbeaten in his two years as Saffer coach at the turn of the Millennium – before being hammered 5-1 in back-to-back series against Australia. Highlights included the home win over Duncan Fletcher’s England in 1998/99 – and a 2-0 win in India a year later. The core of Ford’s side – Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock and Jacques Kallis – was arguably a stronger group than England currently possess. But Ford has also helped turn Kent into a force in the English one-day game: champions of Twenty20 in 2007, they reached finals day again in 2008 – and were also runners-up in the Friends Provident Trophy. County skipper Rob Key believes Ford would be a good choice for the England job. “Graham Ford would be perfect. He has a way of getting the best out of everyone. I’ve never really heard anyone say a bad word about the bloke.” The big, flawed assumption that England fans and pundits may make is that the England job is irresistible. But Buchanan does not want to coach against Australia in an Ashes series. Geoff Marsh, another former World Cup winning-coach likewise, the more so since his son Shaun is now a key part of the Australia squad: “I would never coach against Australia for the Poms and I don’t want to coach against my own kids,” said Marsh, pretty unequivocally. Tom Moody, too, contacted by the headhunters, declined to go on the ECB’s shortlist. The ECB might like to talk to South Africa’s Mickey Arthur – but does he want to talk to them? He is working with a team starting to hit its prime and has just signed a new contract. In any case, Arthur’s role is seen as being supportive, a consultant to an established captain and a strong group of senior players; maybe Strauss’ England needs someone who will take more of a lead. Perhaps the main rival to Flower or Ford is John Wright. From 2000 to 2005, Wright was India’s first foreign coach, a job which – in terms of dealing with politics and expectation and superstar players – makes
Also in the running
Duncan Fletcher (60) Ashes-winning gaffer now working with Hampshire and South Africa. Fell out with ECB and now prefers to work as consultant – but known to have approached ECB after dismissal of Moores John Bracewell (50) Ex-New Zealand coach and acknowledged one-day expert due to rejoin Gloucestershire this summer
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Ashley Giles (35) Currently Director of cricket with Warwickshire and England selector Previously Ashes-winning England spinner, forced into early retirement by hip injury in 2007. In favour Recent experience of top-level international cricket; member of most successful England team in last 20 years; helmed Warwickshire promotion in first season as coach in 2008 Against Just one season’s experience as team coach the England role look like a tea party. He instilled a work ethic that made India competitive away from home and helped Saurav Ganguly become the most successful India captain in history. At any time, experience of the subcontinent is valuable to an England coach; with the 2011 World Cup taking place in Asia, perhaps doubly so. The tough but affable Wright has also worked with the Australian academy – though turned down the chance to run it – and, having played in England for 12 seasons, and later coached Kent, has more experience of the English game perhaps better than any of the other candidates. The ECB is prepared to pay big money to get the right man. But when it comes to it, there’s only a handful of coaches who could help Andrew Strauss’ underachieving side turn things round. Should the ECB put faith in Flower’s burgeoning partnership with Strauss to reap long-term results? Or they go back a generation to Ford or Wright or even Dav Whatmore who have done it all before? Looking at England’s team of stuttering talents, who have won just three Test series out of eight since the last Ashes series, you can’t help thinking that, five months out from the next one, the ECB – have a very big call to make. APRIL 2009
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STORY HARRY HARCOURT 52 SPIN APRIL 2009
Can’t buy me love…
Galle’s first test since the tsunami had a significance Giles Clarke andspin Allen Stanford thought a bigto produce a beyond cricket. asked dominic sansoni box of essay moneytowould make everyone happy. rebirth They photo mark the ground’s poignant were wrong. SPIN unravels the real story of the now-notorious deal and asks what happens next
ebruary 17 is a day that will live in infamy in English cricket; the day the Texan supposed billionaire that the ECB was in bed with was accused of a “massive fraud based on false promises and fabricated data,” by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. When the news emerged, Sir Allen Stanford went ‘missing’. After a two-day manhunt he was found driving near one of his many homes in Fredericksburg, Virginia, by an FBI officer. The story of the doomed Stanford deal, as reported in the press, leaves many big questions hanging in the air. Here, in a special investigation, SPIN answers them.
Who was to blame?
Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, was the prime mover in the deal, but he did not act alone: he was just one of a 12-man ECB board who ratified the deal unanimously. As the ECB’s chief executive, David Collier must, in particular, share responsibility. Clarke’s motives were multiple, but one of them was appeasing the England players,
particularly Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff, in the face of the looming Indian Premier League. Clarke also wanted to stick two fingers up to Lalit Modi, the chairman of the IPL. More than anything that is what drove the ECB into the arms of Stanford. Clarke has been keen to point out that the ICC sanctioned the Stanford Superseries after encouraging other international boards to help West Indies Cricket. And, ultimately, the West Indies Cricket board may be the most culpable: they brought Stanford into cricket initially and became more embroiled with him than anyone, alienating their chief long-term sponsor Digicel in the process.
Didn’t lots of people warn the ECB about Stanford?
Yes. But two ideas have become conflated, with the benefit of hindsight. Those people who did not want Stanford involved in English cricket were, on the whole, the same people who are not fond of one-day cricket, let alone Twenty20 cricket. They did not like the cut of Stanford’s jib. They were right to distrust Stanford, but they despised him because he was a parvenu and because he had money – not because he had none.
Stanford’s critics despised him mainly because he landed a helicopter on the hallowed turf of Lord’s and wheeled in a perspex treasure chest of $20 million. Maybe if those critics had spent more time unearthing the fact that Stanford did not own the helicopter and that there was only about £100,000 and a lot of blank paper in the box, we could take their I-told-you-so voices more seriously now. Before the news of the alleged fraud broke there was enough circumstantial evidence to suggest that not dealing with Stanford would have been a good leave outside off stump. A few phonecalls by SPIN last year was all it took to establish that Stanford had been the focus of investigations since 1995 and that some international companies, would, allegedly, have nothing to do with him or any of his businesses. Stanford had been knocking around for a couple of years and by bank-rolling an interisland Caribbean Twenty20 competition, in 2006 and 2008, had helped rejuvenate cricket on many of the islands. Stanford’s international aspirations were made clear early on. The first winner-take-all challenge match – for $5m – between a Stanford Superstars team and South Africa was APRIL 2009
STANFORD THE FULL STORY
originally planned for November 2006. Contrary to every report in the press in recent weeks, the South Africans were very happy with the idea and had already decided how to spend the money; they were equally unhappy when Stanford pulled out after a squabble with the WICB. But India – who didn’t need the money – and Australia – who didn’t want it – both told Stanford where to go.
So why were the ECB so keen?
The ECB felt they were under enormous time pressure. To understand both that pressure and the way the ECB looked at Stanford we need to go back a year to when the IPL was flexing its muscles and Clarke was involved in fraught negotiations with Lalit Modi of the BCCI. Around 75 per cent of world cricket revenues are generated in India. The first real public manifestation of that came in February 2008 during the IPL auctions. Players were suddenly being offered up to three years’ salaries for six weeks’ work. The prospect of Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff not signing England central contracts and disappearing off to make their fortune in India reared its head. An England team without its major stars would plainly be damaged, on and off the field: how could the ECB negotiate sponsorships and TV deals if they couldn’t guarantee a fullstrength England team? In June 2008 Clarke’s negotiations with Modi over the Twenty20 Champions League ended acrimoniously. Clarke saw England as an equal stakeholder, but Modi would not budge from India having a 50 per cent share and England, South Africa and Australia sharing the other half equally. Clarke said he did not need India and floated a $750 million competition bankrolled by Abu Dhabi under the noses of Australia and South Africa. Whether this was anything more than a bluff is unclear. It came to nothing though. ESPN Star Sports stumped up $1 billion for ten-year deal with Modi and the IPL – and England lost out on a $166 million share. At which point, Clarke needed a new Big Idea. Someone who could help England players make big money without having to dive headfirst into the IPL. Enter Sir Allen Stanford.
Why didn’t the ECB check Stanford out properly? Clarke and the other board members have said that the only thing that they concerned
Stanford’s (hired) helicopter lands at lord’s last june. Left: explaining his grand plans to nasser hussain at the 20/20 for 20 launch.
54 SPIN APRIL 2009
Nearly all of the Stanford money was for the England players â€“ which explains why Clarke was in such a hurry APRIL 2009
STANFORD THE FULL STORY
themselves with at the time was “can he pay?” Due diligence when you are in a hurry and have already decided you want to do a deal is different from due diligence with an open mind. Clarke has said that the ECB will beef up the way that it assesses partners in the future. But they already have three independent auditors on their audit committee: Peter Davies: a non-executive Chairman of C&J Clark Ltd; Richard Gubbins a partner at Ashursts; and Peter Read, a partner at KPMG. That said, it took the USA’s Securities and Exchange Commission – with far greater resources than the ECB or any of its partners – over a decade to put Stanford on a charge. And in the end, it was the credit crunch that exposed the black hole in his finances, rather than the probings of official investigators. Critics say that the No 1 suspicion the ECB should have had was related, simply, to hiring out the England team to a private individual. But the ECB believed – or wanted to believe – that Stanford was not simply a wealthy individual, but the representative of a major, $50 billion financial institution. In effect, they regarded Stanford as an uber-sponsor, different to NatWest or Vodafone only in terms of scale and personal style.
Left: Customers queue outside Stanford’s bank in Antigua as news of the alleged fraud breaks. Far right: Stanford’s Florida bolthole. Right: Stanford leaves the England dressing-room during the Superseries. Below: Chris Gayle leads the lap of honour after the Superstars pick up $1m a man.
Who are the losers?
The headline figure of the ECB losing $100 million is nonsense. It’s much too small. That was the size of the deal for five years of the $20 million challenge matches against the Stanford Superstars only. It does not count the four-team international tournaments at Lord’s, the first of which was due to be played this May. Here the figures become hazy. The quadrangular tournament was supposed to have a total prize fund of $9.5 million. But that was unconfirmed. Various millions were supposed to be going to Chance to Shine, the charity that promotes cricket in state schools. But that appears not to be the case. Despite Clarke’s claims, sources at Chance to Shine have said they have yet to receive any money.
Nearly all the Stanford money was for the players, which goes to show quite why Clarke was in such a hurry to get the money. England’s players blew that in Antigua in November – $13 million of the $20 million on offer went to the Stanford Superstars. (Unfortunately five – Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Kieron Pollard, Sylvester Joseph and Dave Mohammed – are believed to have reinvested most or all of their $1 million share with Stanford). The ECB did receive their $3.5 million share from the $20 million and it appears it was that money, rather than a separate pot, which was originally intended for Chance to Shine. But the ECB has already paid nearly much of that money to the 18 first class counties in the shape of £50,000 each. Rod Bransgrove, the Hampshire chairman, has said it was immoral to keep it given Stanford’s alleged fraud. Clarke told him to give it to charity. Chance to Shine said we’ll-have-it-thank-you-verymuch. But no dice yet.
SUPERSTARS COACH ELDINE BAPTISTE: ‘WHAT STANFORD DID FOR US’ “I keep asking myself the same question: is the improvement in West Indies cricket down to Stanford? I believe the answer is ‘yes.’ Stanford did wonders for West Indies cricket. As a result of his 20/20 competition, kids are playing cricket in the streets again. There’s been 110 per cent more interest in the game and the West Indies side has improved. I just hope we are able to do more. The West Indies Cricket Board can learn a lot from what we did, cricketwise, with Stanford. “The secret of the success of our Stanford Superstars team in the $20m challenge match against England was getting the players together for six weeks for that training camp. When we first told the players about our plans, some of them thought it was too long. But I told them that it was necessary if they wanted to win the money. So we worked on our fitness and we practised hard every day. We let them 56 SPIN APRIL 2009
know how important their success is to all the people who follow West Indies cricket. And, by doing that, we instilled those values in the players. Most of them have kept up that amount of work.They’ve become much better players for it. “The problem with West Indies players is that they don’t like to follow instruction. It wasn’t just that we were a more talented team in 1984; we were also more disciplined. The younger guys watched
the senior players and we learned from them. You had to work hard. There were so many great players around, that you had to be at your best all the time, or your place in the side was gone. “You just have to look at how much Chris Gayle has improved. I’ve talked a lot with Chris. I told him he was just as good at Matt Hayden. I told him the difference was that Hayden selected when to play his shots a bit better. I just wanted Chris
to realise how good he could be. I think he does now. It’s a similar story with six or seven of the guys who were involved with our Superstars side and who are in the West Indies side now: Sulieman Benn has improved; Ramnaresh Sarwan has never been fitter. They have a lot to thank Stanford for. “There wasn’t much wrong with the lights of the pitch for the Stanford game in Antigua. England were just looking for excuses. They underestimated us. They thought they could just turn up and win. They didn’t respect us. They thought that, just because the West Indies are usually no good, that would be the case again. But we made them think again. You know, I wasn’t even that surprised when they were bowled out for 51 in Jamaica. I always think England can collapse like that. They have days when they can beat anyone in the world, but they also have days when they can crumble like sand castles on the beach.”
Reports that the ECB lost $100m are nonsense. The figure is much larger… Will Chance to Shine see any of the remaining money?
The WICB will definitely not see any of their $3.5 million, which was money for schools in the West Indies and the principle moral argument used by the ECB for doing the deal in the first place. But we knew that long ago. Stanford had privately refused to pay it before the start of the Series after becoming infuriated in the wake of the High Court defeat in London by Digicel, who maintained they had paid for sponsorship rights to any West Indies match. Before the allegations of fraud broke, Donald Peters, chief executive of the WICB, had told SPIN that he did not expect to see “another cent” from Stanford. Stanford may have rejuvenated cricket in the islands, but that good work is cast in a different light now: he was, allegedly, using money from investors whose bank accounts are frozen and that Stanford may never pay back. Stanford was a likely sponsor for the mooted English Premier League (EPL), touted as a rival to the IPL. That’s now off the agenda. As are hopes for England to crack the US TV market via the $20m games, which always seemed a long shot anyway.
But English cricket is not bankrupt because of this, right? No. The ECB have lost more credibility than money. But that could affect what money
they will be able to raise, particularly in the current financial climate. Vodafone pulled out of their 12-year association with England in December. The last deal had brought in £16m over four years. The problem for the ECB, in the current climate, is that the deals with their two other major sponsors NatWest and npower run out in 2010. This kind of sponsorship raises about £14 million, nearly 15 per cent of the ECB’s budget. There is also the loss of several million from Sport England, because the money is being diverted to Olympic sports. Clarke’s best defence to his detractors is that he renegotiated the TV deal for England home games with BSkyB last year. This is worth £300m over four years, a significant increase on the last deal, worth £220m. But some television rights experts say privately that the new deal could have earned more and been differently structured to allow some live cricket on terrestrial TV. They also say that Clarke’s deals for rights to England games fall short; that Australia get substantially more for their rights in India than England, despite England’s games being beamed into Indian prime time.
Do the ECB need all this money? Yes, to a point. Many of the 18 first-class counties are loss-making as individual businesses even after the £1.5 million a year subsidy they get from the ECB. In that
context the extra £50,000 of Stanford money, although useful, was not huge. All the counties have been taking advantage of the £1 m ECB subsidy each has been allocated in the last two years for adding floodlights at their grounds. Those are two large reasons why so many counties supported Clarke ahead of Lord Marland in his bid for reelection as ECB chairman last month. Clarke says that people have to accept that modern sport needs money to function. He might be right. But, argue critics, if you look at cricket as a brand, then protecting what gives it value – its history and traditions – has to be more important than short term millions. That is where the most damaging blows are to be landed on the current ECB regime.
What happens next?
With some irony the critics of the ECBStanford deal have got exactly what they wanted in the first place. There will be no more Stanford matches. (Although Clarke did say after the alleged fraud was revealed that a year ago the ECB were receiving plenty of offers for Twenty20 matches and that some were bigger than Stanford’s. If so, might they be resurrected at some point?) Clarke has said negotiations over the Champions League have begun again. SPIN, however, has been told that Modi will not allow England to come back in as a Champions League stakeholder as long as Clarke is in charge. We’ll see. The ECB have a reputation to rebuild. That will be easier if England start winning some matches. This summer provides an enormous opportunity for a giant leap away from the Stanford depression. England host the ICC World Twenty20 World in June and then Australia for The Ashes. Few people will keep beating them over the head with Stanford if they were to win either of those. APRIL 2009
MASTERCLASS FOR ANY YOUNG LADS OUT THERE…
Having considered the basics of batting in my previous batting surgeries, I’m going to look at some of the technical issues facing particular Test batsmen, writes Gary Palmer. I hope this will help those of you who are serious about improving your game – and those of you looking to understand the game better, as spectators.
CASE STUDY: ALASTAIR COOK Alastair Cook has been one of the most successful young batsmen England have ever had. However, I believe, after close observation, that he still has some technical issues when facing spin bowling. The problem, I think, is the direction in which he plants his front foot down the wicket when he is playing spinners. I believe that, too often, he plants his foot straight back down the initial line of the ball – rather than taking account of the direction in which the ball is going to spin. For example: if a spinner is, generally, turning the ball in towards your legs, your front foot should be placed more openly – 62 SPIN APRIL 2009
ie straight back down the wicket – rather than back towards the point of delivery. This means that when the ball turns, it comes into your ‘hitting area’ – the line where the bat can swing most freely in a straight line towards the ball. If, instead, you plant your front foot towards the original line of the ball, you end up playing around your front pad. This means you are unable to bring the full face of the bat down in a straight line: your pad is in the way. You’re playing with half a bat and limiting both your scoring opportunities and your control of the impact of bat on ball.
WHAT TO DO v THE SPINNERS If Cook were to open his stance slightly and adopt a target area between straight mid on and mid wicket he will find it much easier to play the ball turning in to him. As a left hander, scoring down the ground is the best option because it minimises the risks of getting out. To hit the spinners down the ground, the key is to
put your front foot to the correct side of the ball so that the ball turns to the position where you can make the best contact. This position is in line with your head or as close as possible to being in line. From back swing to the completion of the shot, the bat needs to swing in as straight a line as possible through the target area. If the ball is turning towards you then your foot and leg should open out towards the leg side. At this point you are playing with the spin. If the ball is generally turning away from you, then you need to step inside the line of where the ball pitches ie your front foot needs to be pointing across the original line of the ball. By the time the ball has turned away from you, it will be under your eyes and in line with your optimum hitting area. To get your body aligned to playing the ball spinning away from – or across – you, you need to point your front and, more importantly, your back foot up the wicket. This will align your hips perfectly to play the shot. This will allow you good access to
PICTURES: PA PHOTOS
in practice Picture 1 shows the correct position to play the ball turning in from on or just out side off stump: the front foot is planted up the wicket to the leg side of the original line of the ball, allowing for the spin. The back foot is turned in so the feet and hips are well aligned to the target area so that when the ball turns in the bat now can swing in a straight line from backswing to contact with good access to the ball.
the ball even if you want to play the ball against the spin and in to the leg side When the ball is turning away on middle on off line then you would look to plant the front foot slightly to the leg side of the ball (in line with the inside of the front foot but forward of the body. The inside of your big toe should be touching the ground and your back heel should be off the ground. It is of vital importance that you make contact with the ball forwards of the front pad: let the ball come to you prior to contact. Having your back heel off the ground enables you to get your head as far forward as possible, so lengthening his hitting zone when driving. It is even more important that you – and Alastair Cook – push your head to the ball prior to contact rather than your shoulder. Making these minor changes would widen Cook’s scoring areas and make him less vulnerable to getting out.
Picture 2 shows the correct way to play the ball pitching on leg and moving away from you. Rather than planting your foot back towards the original line of the ball – which can mean playing away from your body and leaving a gap between bat and pad – you put your front foot straight down the pitch, waiting for the ball to come into your hitting area. As with (1) this technique gives you the best chance of clean, full-face contact with the ball.
HAVE YOU SEEN ?
What are they? Newtech batting helmets that look, to us, a bit like baseball helmets. More importantly, they are, say manufacturers, lighter, more resilient and more comfortable than traditional models. Ayrtek say that tests show their ‘airbag’-style liner offers 300 per cent more protection than a traditional polystyrene liner. Not content with that, the company has also worked at making the shell both lighter and stronger – the carbon fibre used in their top of the range product is, they say, not just four times stronger than traditional products but also 40 per cent lighter. Who’s wearing them? Middlesex’s Tim Murtagh and Steve Finn wore them at the Stanford week in Antigua last November and Paul Nixon also trialled one during the most recent ICL tournament. Expect to see more county batters wearing them this summer. Why is it more comfortable? Because rather than just being plonked on your head, the Ayrtek helmet fits exactly to the shape of your noggin: there’s an air-filled liner that you pump up after you’ve put the helmet on, tailoring the fit perfectly. Who’s behind it? Tom Milsom. Previously, he used similar ideas, gleaned from his university thesIs, to develop a range of gloves and pads for Canterbury. After cricket, he’s looking to use the air-liner technology in safety gear in other fields, including skiing. Costs? Helmets with a plastic shell and the air-liner technology are £59. The top-ofthe-range carbon fibre model is £99. Where from? Ayrtek helmets are only available on the web right now: ayrtek.com
Gary Palmer has been batting coach to many county and international teams and players and has helped a series of young players from outside the system to win county contracts. For info on courses and one-to-one coaching: ccmacademy.co.uk APRIL 2009
Published on Mar 14, 2009
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