Friday, 31 October 2008

Ashes Cricket Books Reviewed

We will be featuring regular reviews of ashes related cricket books.

To buy any of the featured books visit the
ashes 2009 amazon astore

The Ashes, Cricket Related Books.

Feature #1

The Ashes Miscellany.

This is the 2nd edition of the enormously successful Ashes Miscellany (it was a best seller at the time of the 2006 Ashes series). The book is compiled by Clive Batty featuring a short foreword by David Gower.

The Ashes Miscellany contains a huge amount of miscellaneous ashes information including profiles, stories, statistics and trivia:

Which two cricket legends have taken the most catches in Ashes matches?
Which player holds the record for the most beers drunk on a flight between London and Sydney?
Which England star missed an Ashes series after being run over by his own car?
Find out all of the above answers in this fully revised and updated edition of "The Ashes Miscellany". The book is packed with brilliant facts, stats, lists, quotes and anecdotes from one of the greatest sporting rivalries, this book comes in the form of a neat hardback and is the perfect appetiser for the up and coming 2009 Ashes series.

We Say: This book is a must for any ashes fan.

R.R.P £9.99
Our price: new £6.99 or used from £4.38

Rating: 4 out of 5

If you have a book that you wish to give an opinion or review on please send it in via the comments form.

Buy the above book here at the ashes 2009 amazon astore.

The Ashes and Controversy - Bodyline 1932-33

What makes the ashes cricket series so special? Exceptional bowling, spectacular fielding, majestic batting, fierce competitive rivalry between two proud nations, bad losers or controversy – the answer is probably that they have all played a vital and integral part in making the ashes what it is today.

I want to talk about Controversy in this article and in particular the infamous “Bodyline” series of 1932-33.

The tactics in question were reportedly conceived during a meeting at a London hotel by Douglas Jardine (captain of England during the series in question), Arthur Carr (the Nottinghamshire captain) and two of his fast bowlers Harold Larwood and Bill Voce to try and combat the mercurial talent of Don Bradman.

The tactics were referred to by different names in England and Australia. The English players, press and public referred to the tactic as “Fast Leg Theory” bowling whilst their Australian counterparts referred to the tactic by a far more damning name and that was “Bodyline”.

Because the term “Leg Theory” was being used by the England team and press out in Australia and was a common tactic amongst slow bowlers, the English Cricketing Authorities and public back home thought that the Australians were merely bad losers and making a mountain out of a molehill.

“Fast Leg Theory” or “Bodyline” involved bowling a short of length delivery aimed on leg stump that veered up at the batsman (either into the body or head height). A leg-side field of at least five catchers positioned in close proximity to the batsman would be set, meaning that the batsman would either have to take evasive action or fend the ball away with his bat (with the chance of offering an easy catch to one of the close fielders).

The concept behind the tactic was based on the belief that Bradman jolted to the leg side when faced with a short delivery; he was very rarely known to hook the ball. This was seen as a chink in the great mans armoury.

Six members of the English touring party privately opposed the tactic being employed, including Gubby Allen (the fourth fast bowler, who refused to bowl short on the leg side). Gubby Allen was also only critical of the tactic behind closed doors (to the public and press the squad portrayed a united front) but he also sent a number of letters home to England criticising Jardine.

The tactic was successful so far as England succeeded in regaining the ashes with a 4-1 victory. It also kept Bradman’s average down at 56.57 instead of his career average of 99.94. Bradman’s compatriots however, were far worse off with only one other Australian (Stan McCabe) scoring a century in the series.

Matters came to a head when a number of Australians including the Aussie captain Bill Woodfall were hit by the ball. The Australian crowd was incensed with the English tactics and a riot seemed likely.

With their players being placed at risk and a potential riot on their hands, the Australian Board of Control for Cricket sent an urgent cable to the MCC, it read:

Bodyline bowling has assumed such proportions as to menace the best interests of the game, making protection of the body by the batsman the main consideration. This is causing intensely bitter feeling between the players, as well as injury. In our opinion it is unsportsmanlike. Unless stopped at once it is likely to upset the friendly relations existing between Australia and England.

The above cable was sent after the third test and prior to the fourth test. Jardine and the MCC vehemently denied the above accusations of unsportsmanlike behavior, with Jardine insisting that it is up to the Australian batsmen to play themselves out of trouble.

The cable and bodyline tactic caused outrage in both Australia and England with the public of each nation showing anger towards the other. The matter was only settled when the Australian Prime Minister stepped in, pointing out to the Australian Board of Control for Cricket that there would be severe hardship ahead for the Australian public should Britain boycott Australian trade.

The board withdrew the allegation of unsportsmanlike behavior following the intervention by the Australian Prime Minister and England continued to employ the tactic for the remaining two tests. A premature end to the tour was therefore avoided with England winning the series 4-1.

After the 1932-33 series and a number of articles and books later the MCC amended the laws of cricket to prevent anything like it happening again. Umpires were given the power to intervene if they considered a batsman was being deliberately targeted by the bowler with the intention of causing the batsman harm.

Douglas Jardine himself had to face “Bodyline” bowling when the West Indies toured England in 1933 and used the tactic (to much less effect). Jardine didn’t flinch and scored 127 runs.

The author A.A Milne was one of many writers to pen an article on the “Bodyline” tactic; he was incensed by the tactics employed by England and wrote a letter to the Times. In it he stated:

“The game ceases to be cricket as soon as it can no longer be called a batsman's paradise”

There is nothing wrong with aggressive fast bowling, in fact it is exhilarating to watch the pacemen mark out their long run up and hurtle up to the crease with a degree of menace. The popularity and success of the West Indies are proof of that alone. It creates a buzz around the ground when you have Brett Lee or Shoaib Akhtar trying to reach 100 mph. However the line is crossed when the bowling becomes dangerous and the batsman is targeted; no one wants to see people getting hurt in the name of sporting victory.


Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Jones aims for Ashes Return

Simon Jones the reverse swinging England seamer who caused Australia all sorts of problems in the 2005 ashes series is on another comeback trail from yet another injury and subsequent operation. Jones has now set his sights on forcing himself into contention for the ashes series next summer but is also making sure that he takes this latest comeback one step at a time.

Jones told Setanta "I definitely feel like I am coming back, and was playing well last season."

"I have always had confidence in myself, it is something that has followed me through my career."

"I still have massive hopes to play for England and The Ashes are coming up next summer but my first goal is to get back on the field, get back into pre-season and be as fit as I possibly can because if I am not on the field then I am not in contention."

Jones was bowling very impressively for Worcestershire last season before the body broke down again; he took 42 wickets at an average of 18.02 in 2008 with best figures of 5-30 in the county championship. There was, in my opinion, a very strong case to include Jones in the disastrous Darren Pattinson test match against South Africa. It's hard to understand why Jones was over looked for that match, perhaps the selectors spoke to someone within Worcestershire and were told that Jones was not physically ready for a test return (which was obviously proven correct later in the season).

Of course a lot has changed within the England set up since Jones was last involved in 2005, there is a new coach Peter Moores to impress and of course Kevin Pietersen the new England captain since the departure of Michael Vaughan.

I wish Simon Jones all the best in his latest comeback quest; it is so frustrating for an athlete with such talent to be sidelined for long periods, plus we need his reverse swing back!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Cardiff Ashes Ticket Sale Date Announced

Cardiff has announced that tickets for the eagerly awaited first ashes test of the 2009 series will go on public sale on:

Monday 3rd November at 9am.

You can purchase tickets via the website or via the dedicated hotline
: +44 (0)844 967 0701

The test match will take place between 8-12 July 2009 at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff and is the first test in the five test series.

The ashes will be coming to Cardiff for the first time after the venue beat won the honor ahead of two established grounds in Old Trafford and The Riverside Stadium, Durham.

The Demand for ashes tickets has been imense ever since ashes fever gripped the nation during that nail biting series of 2005; even the whitewash of the last series in Australia hasn't dampened our spirits.

Glamorgan chairman Paul Russell was quoted as saying "As expected, the biggest box office event in cricket, the 1st npower Ashes Test match is a big hit."

6,000 tickets are to be made available to the public on Monday 3rd November with a further 6,000 to go on public sale in January 2009.

"This will give as many fans as possible the chance to watch the biggest Cricket match ever to be played here in Wales."

Don't forget to phone the glamorgan hotline or visit the website first thing on Monday 3rd November to confirm your tickets for the hottest sporting event of the summer.

The Ashes History

The Ashes dates back to 1882 and is Cricket's (and one of sports) most celebrated rivalries. It consists of five 5 day test matches between Australia and England.

The series takes place every two years and the venue alternates between the two countries. If the series ends in a draw the country holding the ashes retains them.

The ashes series takes it's name from a front page story from "The Sporting Times". The front page was a satirical obituary to English cricket as written below:

In Affectionate Rememberance
29th August, 1882
Deeply lamented by a large circle of sorrowing
friends and acquaintances.
N.B.-The body will be cremated the
ashes taken to Australia.

The satirical obituary was in response to England's first loss to Australia on English soil. Little did they know that England would endure many more defeats at the hands of Australia (especially during the time that I got hooked on cricket, which was around 1986 the last time England won the ashes prior to the 2005 series; it is a wonder that I love the sport). After the above front page story the English media named the next England tour of Australia as the "quest to regain the ashes".

During the tour of Australia in 1883, a small urn was presented to the then England captain Ivo Bligh, by a group of women from Melbourne.

The contents of the urn are reportedly the remains of a piece of cricketing equipment such as a bail, ball or stump.

The urn is not, as some people believe the ashes trophy, it has never been formally adopted as the trophy and Mr Bligh always considered it to have been a personal gift that was presented to him.

Although replica's are often given to the winning side as a trophy the real urn has never been awarded and remains in the Marylebone Cricket Club Museum at Lords; it was given to the MCC by Ivo Bligh's widow after his death.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Australia down but not out for The Ashes?

There is an interesting article in today's Independent by John Townsend warning of the Australian teams depth; in it he states that Australia must recall Symonds now. Whilst I believe that Symonds is a world class all-round cricketer, I'm not sure he would bring enough to the bowling department to make that much of a difference in the area that Australia require it the most (namely spin). There is no doubt that Symonds will and should always feature on the current Australian team sheet but is he the saviour? I'm sure he will be back for the ashes!

Symonds is an excellent fielder and a dangerous batsmen (scoring runs at pace, which can always turn a game on it's head) but will his bowling tie up an end sufficiently? Don't forget in the past Australia didn't only tie up an end with spin or consistent bowling, they added huge amounts of pressure and quite often ripped through teams in the form of Warne. Australia have been blessed over the past few decades, having pairs of bowlers that can apply pressure and take wickets constantly during a test match with opposing batsmen getting very little rest bite. I was at Trent Bridge in 2005 on the Sunday when Warne almost bowled England out very cheaply; which would have put a completely different complexion on the ashes.

I personally wouldn't write Australia off for the Ashes yet; after all we are yet to see England out in India, we also need to wait and see how Australia bounce back for the third test (the Australia of old would come back at India and normally win). We shall have to see!

I must admit I loved the jibe about almost turning to Darren Pattinson; unfair on Darren but something that we all believe the England selectors deserved. That was a SHOCKER!!

The full article as it appears in the Independent is below:

Australia outfought in India but enough punch remains for Ashes
The Baggy Greens may appear to be sagging but England must be wary of their strength in depth

By John TownsendMonday, 27 October 2008

It says much about the state of Australian cricket that barely a year after the retirement of the greatest spinner in history, the nation is clamouring for an emergency call-up for a bowler who has spun out just a dozen batsmen at Test level.

Andrew Symonds is currently doing penance at state level for the heinous crime of going fishing rather than attending a team meeting on the eve of last month's instantly forgettable one-day series against Bangladesh. Given that players repeatedly complain that most team meetings consist of bowlers issuing prosaic reminders of the need to aim at the top of off and batsmen talking up the bleedin' obvious value of building partnerships, it is little surprise that Symonds preferred to hook a delicious barramundi rather than dissect, yet again, the minnows of world cricket.

No doubt there is more to the Symonds banishment, though the Australian public is yet to hear it. As English journalists at the Symonds press conference at the MCG during the last Ashes series would recall, a large store of anger seethes close to the surface of the all-rounder and he is often just one uncomfortable question, or extra beer, away from releasing it.
The refusal of Cricket Australia to consider selecting Symonds, referring to mysterious "medical and related issues", has polarised the country. Newspapers and talk radio have been filled to the hyperbolic brim with debate on the issue, with Tom Moody, the West Australian coach and recent Sri Lankan boss, speaking for many fans this week when he argued: "Australia must send an immediate SOS to Andrew Symonds if they want to pick their best team. India is the toughest place in world cricket to come from behind and when the Australian team is struggling for balance, form and cohesion, we simply can't afford to leave him out."

Symonds' absence is just one more complication for an Australian team facing the new age challenge of maintaining world-class standards without a host of world-class players. Shane Warne was best of class, Glenn McGrath arguably the same and Adam Gilchrist in a class of his own. There may be three new players standing under baggy green caps in their place but they cannot replace a trio whose standing and impact may not be matched for generations.

Underlining the difficulty of the search for replacements is the sobering fact that should another debutant – the seventh for the year – be included for either of the next two Tests, and that is highly likely given the magnitude of the 320-run loss at Mohali, Australia would not have tried more new players in a year than when World Series Cricket gutted playing stocks three decades ago.

Much like most Ashes series of recent times – except the 2005 anomaly, which has been scrubbed from Australian history books – there has been a sense of inevitability about the tour of India. But it has been from a position that England would find familiar: the hope of success tainted by a deep-seated sense that something is about to go badly wrong.

From the moment that the Australia selectors named a squad including an uncapped Jason Krejza (Jason who?), an uncapped 36-year-old, Bryce McGain, an uncapped Doug Bollinger, an uncapped Peter Siddle, a keeper with three Tests' experience, an injury-prone all-rounder who had not played for three years, a fast bowler going through an ugly marriage breakdown and a 36-year-old opener recuperating from a serious Achilles tendon injury, the country knew we were up against it. Crikey, things were so crook we nearly turned to Darren Pattinson.

Sure, Ricky Ponting is the best batsman in the world and Mike Hussey not far behind him; the pace attack is varied and versatile and Australia's fighting spirit and indomitable aura are worth an extra player. But as Moody pointed out, India on their own dung heap are a different proposition to the team that has traditionally toured as well as Guinness.

Ponting is realistic enough to recognise his remade team have to gel quickly, with the Border-Gavaskar and Ashes challenges looming. "We have got enough talent around Australia to maintain our No 1 ranking in Test cricket," Ponting said earlier this year. "I don't know how far we are in front but you would think, given what we have done for a fair period of time, that we would be a fair way in front. But how we adapt will determine how good a team we are."

Ponting was satisfied with the effort in the first Test when Australia had the better of the contest but was reluctant to risk an early declaration in a bid for victory. He remains a conservative captain but an inspirational one who has recovered from adversity before.

Australia are represented by a team who play hard, end careers and gather trophies. Record junior playing numbers attest to the positive impact the Baggy Greens have had on the nation's youth. We are going through a tough trot but don't rule out one or two of those youths having arrived by the time Steve Harmison threatens second slip with the first ball of the 2009 Ashes series.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

The Ashes 2009 are All That Matters, KP

Stephen Brenkley has written the following article in today's Independent:

Ashes are all that matter, not T20 distraction
Stanford can have its 20 minutes of fame but Pietersen knows clash with the old enemy is No 1 priority

It may come as a surprise to Kevin Pietersen that some things are simply impossible. Neither the word nor the concept is familiar to him. But he was being quite ridiculous when he said last week, looking forward to England's winter: "Playing Australia is hard but I want to steer away from Ashes, Ashes, Ashes. It's very important what's happening in the next couple of months."
He might have tried whistling in the wind to be certain of being heard more clearly. All roads this winter lead to the 2009 Ashes for England. For Pietersen, the new captain, it is both a curse and a blessing.

Whatever England do and wherever they go in the next eight months, they will be scrutinised in the context of next summer's renewal of the oldest cricketing rivalry. In microcosm, that will apply to Pietersen more than anybody else.

The exception to this may, just, be the events of the next few days and in particular the match taking place in Antigua next Saturday: Stanford Superstars v England, worth $1m (£609,190) to each member of the winning team and $20m in all – the so-called Twenty20 for Twenty. This match has no relevance to the Ashes or anything else. It is a one-off and Pietersen, while doing his employers' bidding, is clearly discomfited by it and what surrounds it.

He made a spirited defence of Test cricket to a gathering of reporters, all of whom were weaned on Test cricket and consider it to be akin to mother's milk, and it was clear from everything he said that the matches which will truly exercise him in the next year are all played over five days: two against India, four against West Indies, two against whomever can be persuaded to play England next May and then the little matter of the quintet against Australia.

But Pietersen is painfully aware that the landscape is changing, and was unruffled by the suggestion that its time may be up. "From my point of view, Test cricket is the big stuff," he said. "I know that my kids or even 10-year-olds right now might just be thinking that they just want to play Twenty20. It is worrying, but that might be the future. Look at televisions, they are high definition now, not black and white with fuzzy screens. That's just the natural progression."

But Twenty20 has changed the way players operate. For instance, as Pietersen pointed out, England will play a Middlesex side tomorrow containing the Warwickshire all-rounder Neil Carter, who is on loan for the county's T20 assignments this winter. "Since the Indian Premier League came in, people are franchising themselves, like Carter, playing against us, which is a disgrace really."

Despite his passion and his nous, it had not seemed to occur to Pietersen that Tests might also be in trouble because nobody is watching them. "The fortunate thing for England is that we play in front of capacity crowds all the time. You want to challenge yourself and part of that is playing to full houses, and we do that here. Hopefully in the Ashes next year we can captivate a huge audience. Of the 40-odd Tests, I don't think I've played in any as close as the five against Australia in 2005.

"The tickets have sold for it quicker than for a Robbie Williams concert. The Ashes is something special, I really don't think we'll have to worry here. I haven't spoken to many people about Test crowds elsewhere but I will after this."

See how hard it was to avoid talking about the Ashes. He might understand the folly of doing so because there are indeed more imminent contests, but he could not help himself when asked. Pietersen is still in his honeymoon period as the official England captain, a period extended by his remarkable start in the job – played five, won five.

This might also apply to his relations with his bosses at the England and Wales Cricket Board. As long as Pietersen keeps winning he can more or less call the shots, even if they are as outrageous as the ones he plays.

The IPL clearly still appeals, and it seems that negotiations are advanced for him to play there next year. Theoretically, this could mean him missing two Test matches which are not yet set in stone but which the ECB seem determined to play. But Pietersen was not being completely disingenuous by pointing out that England players needed T20 experience before next year's T20 World Championship.

It is, as usual, some winter ahead for England and some summer after that. The sooner the Antiguan distraction is done the better for all concerned. And then, as Pietersen must know deep down, all the signs thereafter – whether they be from Ahmedabad in December, or Port of Spain in March – point only one way.

My View

I know that there is a huge buzz around the Stanford game; but it will be over in the blinking of an eye. I truly hope that England will go into that game against the Stanford Superstars and clean up (this is mainly due to the fact that I hope England wins every match they play in), it would be a great windfall for all of the players and their family's, it will also continue to build confidence!

The winter tour of India is going to be an enormous test for all of the England players; it is a very tough place to go and win (as Australia are proving at present). The players state of mind and the team we go into the Ashes series with will very much be decided during the winter tour of India. Confidence is key; for me that was the integral role Kevin Pietersen played during the 2005 Ashes series. The team was laying down and losing to the Australians as usual during the first test at Lords, until KP came out and played two confident knocks taking the game to Australia. After that innings the whole of the England teams attitude notably changed; it was the start of what was to unravel in the next four test matches!!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

KP - Aussies are in Decline

Sky sports has reported in an interview with England captain Kevin Pietersen that he feels Australia are in Decline.

The Kevin Pietersen article as reported by Sky sports is written below:

Aussies are in decline
Retirements have weakened Ponting's men, says England skipper.

England captain Kevin Pietersen says Australia will be taking a "backward step" if they recall Shane Warne for next year's Ashes.

Australia's spin cupboard is empty following the retirement of Warne and fellow wrist spinners Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg in the last 18 months.

Leg-spinning all-rounder Cameron White has been unsuccessful in filling the void during the first two Tests of their current tour of India.

Warne, who took 708 wickets in 145 Tests, has previously stated he would consider an Ashes comeback if asked by Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

"I've already had a text from him saying he might play in it next year," said Pietersen, who played with Warne at Hampshire.

"If he does I think it will be a real backwards step for Australia. If they did decide to pull somebody out it would show how much it did mean to Australia, certainly.

"There is still a long way to go before we play them and there is room for improvement - but they certainly aren't the team they were when we played against them last year. Definitely not.


"They took Test cricket to a new level with the side that they had and absolutely hammered us. They really hurt us.

"But the side that is playing for Australia now is certainly not the one we played against two years ago.

"They don't have Glenn McGrath they don't have Adam Gilchrist they are missing some pretty dangerous players. They are missing Justin Langer at the top of the order."

Warne claimed 40 wickets during the 2005 Ashes series but Pietersen insists England would not be fazed if he was to pull on the Baggy Green again.

"To be honest it really doesn't matter if he plays or not. I don't have a problem with it and our guys play Shane pretty well. I enjoy facing Shane," added Pietersen.

Pietersen is currently in Antigua with England's limited-overs squad preparing for the Stanford Super Series.

England then travel to India and the West Indies before the 2009 Ashes summer gets under way.

Pietersen wants to tackle Australia on the back of successive series victories, as they did in 2005.

"We have a very important next few months," he said.

My View:

In my humble opinion; KP is probably right, although I wouldn't want to rile the Aussies too much. It's impossible for a team to lose some of the greatest players of the modern cricketing era and not take a step backwards; Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist are unquestionably modern greats with Langer, Hog and MacGill all top drawer players that can have a significant impact on the result of a match. Australia have got quality players to replace the before mentioned players but it will take time for them to fully establish themselves in the test arena and as stated in the Sky sports article Australia are currently lacking in the spin department.

Although I concur with KP's opinion I can't help but think that if Warne were to decide to come back for Australia during the Ashes in 2009 that he would play a significant role. I'm sure if Warne was to make a return he wouldn't comeback half cooked and would make sure that he would be bowling well!

As an Englishman I would rather not see him return; as a cricket fan it would be great to see him bowl again (if he could find some of the old form as he was a magnificent bowler).

The Ashes Can Be Ours says Harmison

Rejuvenated England paceman Steve Harmison says he is concentrating on the 2009 Ashes series despite the huge amount of money on offer in the Stanford 20/20 (the winner-takes-all match on November 1 against the Stanford Superstars). The $1 million per man on offer for the winner of the Stanford match is the biggest individual team prize in the history of sport!

"This is going to be an exciting and intense 12 months of cricket and I cannot wait. People will go on about the Stanford series and the money that is on offer, but every single Englishman knows the Ashes series against Australia is the one to really win," said the Durham and England fast bowler. "The money on offer for the Stanford tournament is a lot, but you've got to win it first. We are going out there to represent our country, just as we will do in India and the West Indies this winter."

Harmison defended himself from critics who said he returned to England's limited-overs side for the Stanford millions. "I think we will get a certain amount of stick about playing in the Stanford games, but it was the ECB who organised it, not the players," he said. "We'll get stick if we win and we'll get stick if we lose. I even offered not to play because I knew people would say I've only started playing one-day cricket again for England because of the money, but that wasn't the case."

As far as I'm concerned, if Harmison delivers and performs as he did in the final test and one day matches against South Africa then he should play, if on the other hand he returns to the Steve Harmison that had been playing for the past two years (which led to his eventual overdue dropping from the team) then he should be dropped immediately as England had to carry him the last time.

Harmison said winning the Ashes next year was a "realistic goal". England won the memorable last contest on these shores, in 2005, but were demolished 5-0 in Australia in 2006-07. "I do feel I've got a bit of a score to settle. I know what it's like to win the Ashes and I know what it is like to lose the Ashes 5-0. It's the same for Andrew Flintoff, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood and Andrew Strauss."

"I think it can happen, I really do, but we've got a hell of a lot of cricket to play between now and then. I think we've got ten different series in the next 12 months and I'd like to play in and win them all."

Harmison forced his way back into the England fold after being dropped with a very impressive county season for Durham; he finished with 60 wickets in 12 games and Durham won their first Championship title. Harmison was recalled for the final Test against South Africa at The Oval, under new captain Kevin Pietersen (who obviously has great belief in the bowler and thinks of him in very high regard), and was later persuaded to return to the international limited-overs version of the game.

"It is a season which began with me at my lowest ebb, but it is one I will look back on with an enormous sense of satisfaction," Harmison said. "I've achieved my own personal goal of getting back into the England team and Durham have won the title, I couldn't have asked for much more. This has been a fantastic season for me, unbelievable really. We had our disappointments at Durham, losing in two semi-finals, but we kept on going."

Friday, 24 October 2008

The Ashes Heroes Top 50

I've been reading Patrick Kidd's top 50 Ashes Heroes with great interest of late; it is serving as a great tool to provide me with some knowledge of cricketers whom I would not have necessarily known about previously.

Personally (growing up during the 1980-90's) I remember with great pleasure (as an Englishman) Ian Botham, Chris Broad, Jack Richards, Graham Dilley, Edmonds, DeFreitas, Gower and Athey; unfortunately all of these players herald from one particular series in 1986, since then and until 2005 there has been very little to cheer and many Australians stand out for their excellence. These include Terry Aldermand (he ripped us apart in 90/91), Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Bruce Reid, Mark Waugh, Allan Border, Marsh, Jones, Boon and Merv Hughes to name but a few. Below is the list currently being compiled by Patrick Kidd on his Line and Length Cricket Blog; if you want to talk about any unsung heroes or anyone that you feel should be remembered, post your list and lets discuss them (as they deserve and as great performers should be remembered by creating debate!).

Will Luke of The Corridor (a cricket blog) has also posted his Ashes top 10 on the line and length blog. Can you think of your top 10, which players really stand out for you?

The list Patrick has compiled to date is:

NO 34: Sydney Barnes
NO 35: Geoff Lawson
NO 36: Ray Lindwall
NO 37: Victor Trumper
NO 38: Bobby Peel
NO 39: Bob Simpson
NO 40: Alec Bedser
NO 41: Matthew Hayden
NO 42: Charlie Macartney
NO 43: Andrew Flintoff
NO 44: Bill O'Rielly
NO 45: Craig McDermott
NO 46: Frank Tyson
NO 47: Richie Benaud
NO 48: Chris Broad
NO 49: Ken Barrington
NO 50: Gary Pratt

Read Patrick Kidd's Top 50 here:
Will Luke's Ashes Top 10 here:

Thursday, 23 October 2008

The Ashes 2009 better than Cash

Ian Bell insists reclaiming the Ashes next summer means more than becoming one of England's million dollar men. Bell stands to win £570,000 if England win the winner takes all match on 1 November 2008 against the Stanford Superstars in Antigua.

However, Bell is adamant that a repeat of 2005's Ashes triumph when the Australians visit next summer would have far greater meaning than any cash windfall in the Caribbean. Bell knows exactly what it means to win the ashes as he was an ever present during the 2005 series.

"It's really exciting to be given the chance to win this money but, as a team, we'd much prefer to win the Ashes next year," Bell said. "That might sound silly because the amount is so big but the Ashes is the bigger picture for us". Just to put that into perspective; the $1 million per man on offer for the winner of the Stanford match is the biggest team prize in the history of sport!

"The rewards for winning an Ashes series are not just financial. I know winning the Ashes in England is the best time you can have as a cricketer. Everyone remembers it for a long time - a lot longer than winning some money."

Bell also added: “There’s already momentum building under Kevin Pietersen’s captaincy. By the time we reach The Ashes, we’ll have a good idea of how good the team is.”

Bell could be right as Kevin Pietersen does seem to have the Midas touch, the massive turn around during the series against South Africa after he took over as captain; winning the final test and all of the one day games bar one (which didn't take place due to bad weather) against the number two one day team in the world proves that!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

The Ashes 2009 itinerary anounced

The ECB have confirmed Australia's full itinerary for the forthcoming tour of England during the summer of 2009; the itinerary includes seven one-dayers in addition to the usual five Tests.

Australia will spend a total of four months in England with the Ashes follow the ICC World Twenty20 tournament, which also takes place in England during the month of June.

Australia will switch formats on completion of the Twenty20 tournament with a four-day match against Sussex at Hove, followed by another against England Lions at New Road (Worcester) to prepare for the five Test matches.

The Rose Bowl has also been chosen as the venue for the third ODI on September 9, and is preceded by the first two games which are to take place at Old Trafford.

"The summer of 2009 promises to be one of the most exciting in the history of cricket in England and Wales," David Collier, the ECB chief executive, said.

"The Ashes and the NatWest Series along with the NatWest International Twenty20 matches have the potential for providing the sort of wonderful cricket which can fire the nation's imagination.

"And of course all this follows the ICC World Twenty20 which guarantees that all the best Twenty20 players in the world will be in this country in June 2009." The news follows Glamorgan's coup last month when they were awarded the first Ashes Test, their inaugural Test match.

Mark Newton, Worcestershire's chief executive, was delighted with the news that a taste of the Ashes is coming to New Road:

"This is the closest we will ever get to playing a Test Match in Worcester and I couldn't be more pleased about the timing, 2009 will be a huge year for cricket in England and for four days Worcester will be centre of the cricketing world" he commented.

A two-day match against Kent at Canterbury has been penciled in for August 15, in between the fourth and fifth Tests, although Australia could face an England Lions team if Kent are involved in the Twenty20 finals day.

The full 2009 Ashes itinerary:

May (tbc) Australia arrive in UK Mon 1 - Thu 4 June
Warm-up period for World Twenty20 Fri 5 - Sun 21 June
World Twenty20 Wed 24 - Sat 27 June
Four-day game v Sussex (Hove) Wed 1 - Sat 4 July
1st Test Cardiff Wed 8 - Sun 12 July
2nd Test Lord's Thu 16 - Mon 20 July
3rd Test Edgbaston Thu 30 July - Mon 3 Aug
4th Test Headingley Fri 7 - Tue 11 Aug
Two-day game v Kent (Canterbury) Thu 20 - Mon 24 Aug
5th Test Oval Thu 20 - Mon 24 Aug

1st International Twenty20 (Old Trafford) Sun 30 Aug
2nd International Twenty20 (Old Trafford) (floodlit) Tue 1 Sept
1st ODI day/night (The Oval) Fri 4 Sept
2nd ODI (Lord's) Sun 6 Sept
3rd ODI day/night (The Rose Bowl) Wed 9 Sept
4th ODI (Lord's) Sat 12 Sept
5th ODI day/night (Trent Bridge) Tue 15 Sept
6th ODI day/night (Trent Bridge) Thu 17 Sept
7th ODI (Durham) Sun 20 Sept

Will England Reclaim The Ashes 2009

Can England reclaim The Ashes in 2009?

The gap between the two teams has definitely narrowed and Australia's recent defeat to India during the 2nd test in Mohali must give the England team a glimmer of hope. Where Australia excelled in the last Ashes, the team is now showing signs of vulnerability and is in a process of rebuilding due to the retirements of greats such as Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Langer. The younger English squad under the new leadership of Kevin Pietersen could use this to their advantage and reclaim the oldest and most celebrated rivalry in international cricket. Although the Ashes are still a winter and a lot of cricket away; we can definitely feel the excitement rising!

Strauss: The Ashes Pressue is More Intense

England Test batsman Andrew Strauss believes that despite the riches on offer in the forthcoming Stanford Super Series, nothing can match the Ashes when it comes to pressure.
Strauss is not part of the England squad that will play for US dollars one million a man against the Stanford Superstars on November 1. However, he will be travelling to Antigua with Twenty20 Cup champions Middlesex, who face England, the Stanford Superstars and Trinidad and Tobago in the tournament.
"A year ago these riches would have been beyond these players' dreams. It is a step in a big 12 months culminating in the Ashes," Strauss told The Sun. "But I would say I'd be surprised if the pressure out there would be as intense as for that series."
He added: "Money is a big factor but I don't know anyone who plays solely for money.
"So no-one can say it is bigger than an Ashes Test match."