If nobody will walk the walk then please can everyone stop talking the talk
The most remarkable feature of Stuart Broad's decision not to walk at Trent Bridge last summer is that no-one, even Broad himself, has quite been able to shut up about it since. When he takes to the crease at Brisbane next month, several thousand Australians won't give an XXXX about anything else.
The absurdity of the situation becomes particularly acute when his critics lard it on by talking of how he 'middled it to slip' or some such nonsense. In fact, of course, the ball only ended up in Michael Clarke's hands because Brad Haddin made a hash of the chance. Had he taken it cleanly himself, the subsequent debate would have been less Prime Minister's Questions and more Early Day Motion: of parochial academic interest but unlikely to rear its head after an initial appearance.
Mind you, it may say as much about the last Ashes series as a whole that the major mark it left on cricket's history lies very much at the edges.
Aussie selectors revert to type with their spinconsistency
The Australia A side which England will face at Hobart next week contains few great shocks, although the inclusion in the squad of slow left-armer Jon Holland suggests the selectors are still keen to explore every spinning option in the country.
Holland was widely touted by the Aussie press four years ago but has yet to make his international debut, which makes him a rarity among his peers. But in their hopeless search for the next Warne, Australia would do well to remember the merits of patience and give Nathan Lyon a prolonged run in the team. His record after 25 tests is, after all, thoroughly satisfactory.
The problem for Lyon is that the chopping and changing of recent years is more or less a reversion to type for Australian selectors. Before Warne emerged, any number of journeyman spinners played a dozen or two tests, often spread over several years. Terry Jenner, Greg Matthews, Jon Holland's namesake Bob, the Peters, Sleep and Taylor, Trevor Hohns and Tim May all had their moment - or moments - in the sun. Even Ashley Mallett, the best Aussie off-spinner of the ‘70s played fewer than 40 tests. Lyon will hope for greater consistency of selection this winter.
Tight schedules leave no room for leisurely travel
A 24-hour flight is naturally an excellent way to prepare for a lengthy cricket adventure, as Alastair Cook's stiff back can bear testament. With both Ashes captains having had similar experiences of plane-induced pain, perhaps the longer but more civilised route by sea should come under consideration once again.
England would have the chance to stroll the decks in their super-smart travelling suits, while in the evening choosing from a range of restaurants, a disco or a Jonathan Agnew stand-up show. They could play deck cricket, competing to see who could come nearest to hitting Gibraltar with a switch-hit, and generally execute their sun-tanning skills.
On the way back they could even arrange a stop-off in India for a spot of IPL. The non-t20 types could of course hop aboard a cargo vessel in order to be back in time for the county openers in April.
The return of a legend
Everyone remembers their first bat. Mine was called the Clipper, though it doesn't really count because it wasn't usable with anything harder than a tennis ball.
As a Mike Atherton hero-worshipper from a young age - even braving the chill of Fenners to watch his leg-spin - it was inevitable that my first real bat would be a Gray-Nicolls Powerspot. It was a size 4, with unique “tufcoat” covering that was pleasingly quick to pick up the 'cherries' prized by every schoolboy. A sequence of larger Powerspots followed until the model was discontinued and I tried elsewhere.
They say 'never go back' and a top score of 28 (albeit not out) suggests a certain ambivalence in my relationship with this particular bat. But the glorious news of Powerspot's return for 2014 – hoped for by TLR in June - simply cannot be ignored. Athers may have moved on. Some of us cannot.Reuse content