18 May 2007

So Prior can bat ...

So now we know that England’s latest wicket-keeper can bat!

Matt Prior’s innings of 126 not out against the West Indies (in 128 balls) must have been worth seeing – and congratulations to him! [Did that come out all right between clenched teeth?!]

Writing on the BBC website, Oliver Brett is ecstatic:

“Prior's innings was a superbly confident display and vindicated his debatable selection for the side. Many had felt he was elevated above other candidates having been a disciple of new coach Peter Moores when Moores had been at Sussex.”

As one of the many, could I just try and flag down that bandwagon, before it gets up too much momentum? Permit me couple of observations.

Firstly, the West Indies are not Australia.

Coming in at 363-5 at Lord’s against the current West Indian attack is rather different to facing the Aussies in Melbourne or Sydney after one of the customary batting collapses exhibited during last Winter’s Ashes series.

Secondly, an England wicket-keeper doesn’t vindicate his selection by batting.

Mr Brett has chiselled Prior’s name on the team sheet before he has even kept wicket in a Test match!

Remember Geraint Jones – Duncan Fletcher’s favourite? Well, the question mark against him as England wicket-keeper was rarely his batting – at least not until towards the end of his extended run in the team.

We knew he could bat. He just couldn’t keep wicket! At least, not to the standard required of an England wicket-keeper.

So what about Peter Moores' favourite? We know Matt Prior can bat – but is he an England wicket-keeper?


16 May 2007

A new era for England cricket?

You won’t be at all surprised to hear that I have a few thoughts on the current position regarding the England Cricket Team!

Naturally I am more than pleased to see the back of the execrable Duncan Fletcher and his bizarre selection policies. But I fear that with the arrival of Peter Moores as coach, in fact, very little has changed. Witness the sudden inclusion of Sussex players in the squad – amongst whom, of course, the latest wicket-keeper to be preferred to Chris Read. (Moores used to be the Sussex coach).

Incidentally – what’s going on there? Anyone But Read is, we know, the established policy, which Moores is only continuing. But even I have to admit that Paul Nixon (given the sort of extended run in the team always denied to Chris Read) actually did very well for England in the World Cup. He was one of the very few in the squad to emerge with any credit. So, of course, he is dropped!!

The reason I say that little has changed is simple – David Graveney is still Chair of Selectors. It was Graveney who cravenly allowed Fletcher to subvert selection procedures to install his favourites; Graveney who presided over the fiasco of the winter Ashes tour and World Cup – and Graveney who continues in post. How can selection improve?

Equally worrying is the precipitate manner in which Moores was drafted in to replace Fletcher. No less an authority than former England captain Mike Brearley has expressed serious doubts about this. He questions both the speed and wisdom of the appointment, saying “there can have been no proper search.”

Brearley continues,

"However good Moores is, there was no time to advertise the job, and it is not right for such an important job to be handed out without proper competition. We should have had more rigorous discussion and careful thought about what this new coach's role will be, and in what sort of a set-up."

What sort of set-up? Why, the traditional one long suspected in England cricket! Brearley confirms what we have always really known:

"I question the manner and timing of [Moores'] selection as England head coach. His selection smacks of favouritism."

Not so very different from Duncan Fletcher and the "old" regime then!

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15 May 2007

Catching up!

I knew I hadn’t blogged for a while, but I was surprised to find my last entry was back in the middle of March! It’s been busy since then, but surely not that busy?!

What have I been up to? Well, 17 March was the first anniversary of my Dad’s death, and as you can imagine, there was a whole lot of emotion around that time. But I don’t know if I can really reflect coherently about that. As with other bereavements, I’m very much up and down. The biggest things I can sometimes carry off, whilst the smallest things “get me”! A familiar pattern.

I have taken on some responsibilities within the Diocesan Readers’ Association, including a role in our Archdeaconry, which is interesting and stimulating, but demanding too. Sometimes I don’t cope so well with “demanding”! It is literally years and years since I took on a new job!

Of course, there has been Easter – and Easter holidays! We managed a few days in London, including a trip to the theatre to see Stomp! I also managed to see the Cabinet War Rooms again – I’d been wanting to see the new Churchill Museum there, which is excellent, but I had seriously underestimated the time I would need to go round it all, so I ended up rushing. (Those who know me would probably say that one can never underestimate the time I take in museums …!) Actually my best trip to London was an indulgent day to see Richard Schiff – yes, Toby in The West Wing – in a one-man tour de force Underneath The Lintel. I even got to hang around at the stage door and meet him after the performance! (I know …!)

My wife arranged for a group of us to see African Snow at York Theatre Royal, so I’ve been to the theatre more times in the last couple of months than I usually manage in years. That, too, was a remarkable presentation. I have been greatly affected by what I have learnt around the anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. In reality, that whole era of slavery is a Holocaust we British are responsible for – I’d never really thought about it before. We saw Amazing Grace at the cimema too – a superb film, well worth seeing.

What else? In football, Free Agency and the NFL Draft, of course. The Packers are still re-building – no big acquisitions and some impatience from us fans – and from the franchise Quarterback too, by all accounts. And looking back, it’s surprising how many friends have dropped in – or attempted to – which rather makes me wonder why I sometimes feel isolated, happy as we are in our “new” place.

So, that’s a very quick sketch – am I up to date? Haven't even mentioned the prospect of a new Prime Minister, the replacement of the England Cricket Coach … What have I been thinking about all of that??

As for blogging - must try harder!

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