Another important England victory on Saturday was enabled by another crucial Tim Bresnan performance. Three wickets, including those of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, helped set up the series win. Despite this, to say nothing of his Ashes contribution, he still may not play at Lord's next week. Is there any doubt that if Bresnan (above) were a tall, svelte old-boy of Oakham School, with golden hair and arching cheekbones, he would play in the first Test? Or that, if Stuart Broad were an authentic son of Wakefield, with the accent and the build to match, he would be back in the counties? An England team reflecting the make-up of the nation would also reward Bresnan's growing excellence.
This is England
Allow no suggestions that the England women's team are unworthy of the attention paid to the men's team, that they are a shadow of, or a distraction from, the men's senior team. Events from the Women's World Cup teach us that they, like the Under-21s, are part of the same whole. To fritter away a lead at the sharp end of normal time is one thing, but to do that, and then to gain a lead in the penalty shoot-out, only to throw it away, and to lose, is a peculiarly English trait. It was the most dramatic collapse against the French since the defeat in Euro 2004. Just as the Under-21's inability to keep the ball showed that they were fit to wear the same shirt as the senior team, so too the women have proven themselves by their late horror show.
Beckham's corner ball
As the Women's World Cup shows game after game, there is nothing quite as damaging to the integrity of football as bad goalkeeping. So it proves in Major League Soccer, where yesterday David Beckham scored directly from a corner-kick. His corner from the left-hand side curled, at no great height, and bounced between the legs of the Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson and in. Of course, Beckham was delighted, as Galaxy won the game 2-1. But the glory of it is tainted by the poverty of the competition. At Manchester United, Real Madrid or Milan Beckham could surely not have scored like this. Surely the nature of a goal may serve to diminish the respect we accord it.