Archive for the ‘andrew strauss’ Category
Sunday, September 2nd, 2012
So farewell, then, England’s Test supremacy; farewell too, to Andrew Strauss, a man who, in his role as captain, took England to the top, and who enjoyed a fruitful opening partnership with successor Alastair Cook until everything began falling apart.
A decent, quietly dignified man, Strauss leaves the team ironically in the same state of turmoil it was in when he accepted the captaincy, but between then and now he, along with Andy Flower – the Steve Jobs to Strauss’s Tim Cook – made a team that proved greater than the sum of its parts through a vision that hinged upon keeping things simple. He deserves respect for his 7037 Test runs, the 24 matches won under his watch, the 3-1 Ashes series win and the first by an England side Down Under in 24 years. He deserves respect for his statesmanlike steering of the team through the rocky rapids of the Pakistan spot-fixing scandal, and, because he strikes me as an honest, plain-speaking bloke, I’m inclined to believe him when he says his decision to resign and retire from all forms of professional cricket had nothing to do with the recent ruckus surrounding England cricket’s current bête noire Kevin Pietersen.
Strauss’s successor, Alastair Cook, may not be the most inspirational of leaders, or of speakers, judging by Wednesday’s presser – “you have to throw yourself into it and meet the challenge head on – I hope I have it in me,” isn’t exactly the “we happy few, we band of brothers” stuff that fires the blood. But then, given he’s inherited a dressing room currently missing its best batsman, riddled, it would seem, with cliques and raging egos (and I’m not just talking about Pietersen’s), and a team on the receiving end of a comprehensive Test series beating, perhaps simply throwing oneself into it might be the best and simplest strategy. As Joe Cabot says in Reservoir Dogs, sometimes you just gotta shit your pants, dive in, and swim.
Strauss, not the most tactically imaginative captain, succeeded largely because he was utterly unflappable. On the field of play, this worked extremely well – there can be no greater contrast in terms of “game face” than Strauss’s arm-folded inscrutability at slip when a carefully laid plan resulted in a bowler being smashed for three consecutive boundaries, and Andrew Flintoff’s public, near nervous breakdown in the field at Adelaide in 2006.
Cook’s Bambi-eyed demeanour doesn’t quite inspire the same confidence, though. It’s not just the on-field stuff he has to control, it’s the dressing room environment as well, the “behind closed doors” nonsense we’ve unfortunately been hearing a lot about lately. The fact that Strauss said in a televised interview before Lord’s that the dressing room tension alluded to by Pietersen “has all been a bit of a surprise to me” is rather worrying. Plainly tensions did exist, as evidenced by the “KP Genius” Twitter account set up by a friend of Stuart Broad purely for the purpose of having a laugh at Pietersen’s expense. A parody account set up by a fan is one thing; an account set up by a friend of a team mate, likely with that team mate’s knowledge, makes a mockery of the “trust and mutual respect” demanded by the England management in response to queries regarding the timescale – or indeed any possibility – of Pietersen’s reinstatement.
Graeme Swann provided another example of hypocrisy at work; he was less than complimentary about Pietersen in his autobiography, but somehow, his book – released in a print run of thousands, available in paperback now, at a WH Smith’s near you – was deemed less damaging to team unity than private texts sent to a couple of mates during a moment of pissed-off indiscretion. Given Broad is already captain of the T20 side and Swann too, for all his jack-the-lad image, has captaincy ambitions (he led the side in the absence of Broad for three T20 matches against the West Indies and India last year) it’s all starting to suggest a pack struggle, a jostling for a higher rung on the dressing room hierarchy, the kind of playground unpleasantness that too often goes hand-in-hand with a group turning on one of its own. If Andrew Strauss was unaware of this, then Alastair Cook seems even less likely to be able to keep a lid on it.
The Pietersen problem is one that demands an urgent solution. Examining how the situation reached this state of urgency is instructive. How Pietersen’s very reasonable concerns over a congested international schedule degenerated via tweets and “derogatory texts” (since believed to be sent via Blackberry Messenger) into the current block-headed stalemate is an interesting study in tabloid media sensationalism, knee-jerk pettiness, mob behaviour, and group-think.
It has also demonstrated that if you repeat something often enough, it becomes accepted as truth. Take the infamous text messages, for example, reportedly sent to Pietersen’s friends in the South African team, reportedly “derogatory” towards Andrew Strauss and believed to contain encouragement to Dale Steyn to get him out, and later reported to contain advice on how to dismiss Andrew Strauss. Later, the tabloid that first broke the “exclusive” of these texts, admitted the messages contained no tactical information. Nevertheless, the damage has been done – the myth that these texts contained tactical information sent to the opposition persists on social media networks and “under the line” comments as sufficient reason for Pietersen’s permanent banishment. It has been an unsavoury, grubby saga of hearsay, leaks, innuendo and allegations, with precious little substance behind the hyperbole. Pietersen has since admitted sending texts, but the fact that it was not then – and still isn’t – known exactly what they contained while being cited in an ECB press release as a reason for his omission from the Lord’s Test is a quite staggering example of trial by tabloid in the absence of concrete proof.
As if this weren’t enough, we’ve been subjected to the deranged rantings of those such as Michael Henderson, who in a shrill, hectoring interview on BBC Radio, launched an unstoppable stream of bilious invective at Pietersen’s background, personality and motivation for playing for England. He referred to Pietersen’s replacement, Jonny Bairstow, as “a true Englishman” and justified his stance by saying it was one shared by those he spent time with while in the MCC President’s box – “no riff-raff”. Henderson has never considered Pietersen a “bona fide Englishman” and has grasped this controversy with relish, providing as it did another opportunity for him to air his xenophobic opinions. It was jaw-dropping, deeply offensive, and if you felt like having a hot shower and scrubbing yourself with a wire brush afterwards, you weren’t the only one.
Have we become so cynical that we accept that this is how the media can make or break a man’s career? Pietersen’s gaucheness may be to his disadvantage when it comes to his relationship with the media, but God help us all if a cricketer were ever to commit a truly heinous infraction such as murder or kidnapping – having already used up every known variation on words such as “vile”, “traitor”, “scandal” and “outrage” one tends to think a few of the sports commentariat have in this instance rather overreached themselves. But this, we are loftily assured, is how journalism works. It’s the way things are done. You’ll excuse me if I’ve had my faith in humanity, and my love for English cricket, dented slightly as a result.
Now, Pietersen is in the position where he is vilified if he says anything – no matter when he said it, or in what context – and castigated if he says nothing. That is how ridiculous it has become. He’s made a few mistakes, but isn’t it about time to get off the guy’s back and make a concerted effort to find a solution rather than letting it drag on?
From football-style tabloid sensationalism to the reinforcement of the stereotype that cricket is a game for public-school toffs who use servants as footstools and for whom the President’s box at Lord’s is the inner sanctum off-limits to those deemed “not one of us”, it’s fair to say the last few weeks have not been a shining advertisement for the sport.
Pietersen was due to sit down yesterday with Andy Flower in the first of a series of meetings that will, if pragmatism prevails, hammer out some kind of resolution that will allow the black sheep to return to the English fold. One hopes there will be compromise from both sides.
Kevin Pietersen may look back on this in time and know there were things he should have done differently. But he did not solely create this situation, or indeed the disunity within the team. He has only lifted the rock – or rather, kicked it over – and shown what is scurrying underneath.
Kevin Pietersen's future remains uncertain
Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Andrew Strauss wasn’t kidding when he said England tend to raise their game against bigger opponents than the Netherlands. Only trouble is, he may as well have added, “We are England, so nothing is ever that that straightforward”.
It seems appropriate that this game against India would end in a tie, given the similarities between the two sides with both bat and ball. Sehwag gave three chances in the first over and then got out for 35; Tendulkar, making history yet again, made his 5th World Cup ton (his 98th international hundred – age shall not dim him, the years not weary him). India were past 300 before Tim Bresnan took 3 quick wickets and they were all out for 338.
In England’s reply, they were level on runs with India after five overs. Pietersen, still working on his strategy as an opener, made 31, while Andrew Strauss played a captain’s innings and then some with a magnificent 158. We were treated to Ian Bell bizarrely playing the Yuvraj role – chipping in with an aggressive half century and providing able support for his team’s top scorer.
Just when it seemed an England victory was nailed on, and Indian fans were streaming from the ground – the fools – Zaheer Khan steamed in to take three quick wickets and turn the match. A desperate, almighty six from Ajmal Shahzad straight down the ground, two needed off the last ball, and throats being screamed raw at the Chinnaswamy as Shahzad and Graeme Swann ran like Forrest Gump stricken with the shits and sprinting for the nearest khazi. (Which reminds me – get well soon, Stuart Broad.)
All this, and we’re still only in the group stage.
India will be worried by the fact they could not defend 338. Andy Flower, judging by his expression while those around him on the balcony clapped and cheered, will be wondering why the hell England didn’t win.
We are nine days into this World Cup, and while only yesterday I was musing that this tournament has yet to bore me, now, it is properly exciting me.
Is this thing switched on? Why yes. Yes it is.
Tuesday, December 7th, 2010
England have won their first Test in this Ashes series. It is only one win with three more Tests to go, but it feels like the Ashes are England’s.
After the horrible trauma of the last time England played Australia on their home turf, I can only begin to describe how weird this feels.
It’s like breaking out of the basement dungeon Australia have kept us prisoner in, and watching while they get run over by a train.
It feels like freedom, and it smells like victory.
England needed just over an hour to dispose of the six remaining Australian wickets to win by an innings and 71 runs. Graeme Swann got a five-for with support from Jimmy Anderson, Steven Finn, and the golden arm of Kevin P. Pietersen.
Two hours after the match ended, the rain came down like Armageddon.
I still think it was a gamble for Strauss to declare. He got lucky. If the rain had arrived any earlier, with Australia, say, 8 wickets down, he would have been ruing that 40 minutes spent adding runs he didn’t need. If Michael Clarke had hung around, and Hussey and Haddin had reprised their Gabba heroics, England could easily have run out of time, ending up with a draw when they deserved better.
But, after this stunning victory, that is really just cavilling on my part.
Because Australia are now in the position we became so used to seeing England in – captain without a clue, revolving-door approach to picking a bowling attack, and batsmen who, in the words of Michael Vaughan circa 2008 are “hitting it really well in the nets” but not quite so well out in the middle.
And fuck me, but that feels good. Weird, but good.
Ironically, despite each side’s exchange of fortune, there has been some synchrony in that both teams have suffered casualties.
Stuart Broad is out for the remainder of the tour due to a torn abdominal muscle, and likewise Simon Katich, who admirably made do without the use of a runner, is out for the rest of the series with a ruptured Achilles.
Broad is more easily replaceable than Katich, with Chris Tremlett being the most obvious choice for the next Test at Perth, where the fast, bouncy WACA wicket will be tailor-made for him.
Philip Hughes will most likely step in for Katich. Hughes is in good form at the moment in domestic cricket, and clearly the Australian management are keen to give him another opportunity in the Test arena, though Andrew Strauss maintains his technique remains flawed and can be exploited.
If this Test does prove Simon Katich’s swan song, I will miss him. Nice bloke, good batsman (if ugly as hell), once tried to strangle Michael Clarke.
I will also be surprised if Marcus North hasn’t finally worn out the patience of Australia’s selectors, but as replacements Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson were less than convincing in the Australia A game in Hobart.
Xavier Doherty will almost certainly not play in Perth, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Nathan Hauritz back. I thought they were a tad hasty in dumping Hauritz in the first place; he doesn’t have all that bad a record against England. They also need to stop summarily picking and discarding bowlers because they’re not the next Warne, and give one bloke a decent go.
Doherty got a lot of stick in this match, but he should not bear the brunt of criticism; the batsmen gave him little to defend in the way of runs. Michael Clarke’s form remains bingled since his break-up with Lara, and Ricky Ponting needs to drop down the order.
Watching the reaction of the Australian press over the next few days will be revealing as well as entertaining.
Monday, December 6th, 2010
So, you are Andrew Strauss and your team has outplayed the Old Enemy for the second Test in succession.
Your bowling attack is superior, your batsmen are breaking records. Your opposition are in disarray, key players are out of form, and their selection policies seem born of knee-jerk desperation.
You have skittled them for 245 and responded with a total that’s the highest for England in Australia since 1928.
Their shoulders are hunched and their heads are down, and your team are riding the wave.
You have two days to win this, but with one big caveat.
Rain is on the way. Not just rain, but thunderstorms and hailstones the size of golf-balls, real wrath-of-god type shit. This weather is forecast to disrupt the tail-end of Day 4, and very likely wipe out completely any prospect of play on Day 5.
What do you do, motherfucker? WHAT DO YOU DO?
Andrew Strauss decided to take the safe option. He did not declare overnight.
He did not send a message to a beaten Australian side, saying: We have enough runs, bring it on, make us bat again; anything you set us, we will chase down, or give it one bloody good try.
No. Despite having a lead of 306, he sent Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell back out to the middle.
We waited, listing to ourselves all the possible milestones that Strauss would permit England to achieve before calling them in. A lead of 350; 600 runs on the board; Kevin Pietersen accomplishing a new personal best Test score – all these key moments came and went and still no sign from the balcony.
At one stage, we were treated to the sight of a maiden over being bowled, while Stuart Broad sat with his pads on up in the England balcony.
Time drained away, and the rain clouds got ever closer.
Finally, after KP had departed and England’s lead had reached 375, Strauss finally waved them in.
The message this sends to Australia is a negative one. It says England have no confidence batting last on this wicket, despite the Australian attack being garbage. If Australia do make them bat again, how hard would it be, given the superlative form of England’s batsmen, to chase down 150 or so?
And worse than that is that the weather reports seem to have been disregarded in favour of the canny approach of looking out the dressing room window and saying, “Well, it’s not raining now, is it?” as Graeme Swann indicated they had more or less done in his interview at the end of the day’s play.
As weather reports go, this is pretty much on a par with Michael Fish back in 1987 forecasting that it “might get a bit breezy today”. Awesome – now what’s this I’ve heard about a hurricane?
Andrew Strauss kept England batting for 9 overs while 69 runs were added. Rain came after tea, as predicted, and over an hour of play was lost. Considerably more time will be lost tomorrow. At best England may have a window of two hours in the morning before the thunderstorms descend with a vengeance, kiboshing the remainder of the day.
Australia will start the day 4 wickets down, included among them the valuable scalp of Michael Clarke, snared off the last ball by England’s new all-rounder (according to him, anyway) Kevin Pietersen and breaking a valuable partnership.
England would rather they were in the tail. Time, due mostly to the weather and partly to Strauss’s conservative captaincy, is not on their side.
If the weather arrives as forecast, a draw seems almost certain now. It would be scant reward for an England team that has played so well.
Sunday, November 28th, 2010
When Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook walked out to open England’s second innings, the task in front of them seemed almost insurmountable.
The mountain they had to climb was one that had been raised up on the back of a six wicket haul for Peter Siddle, and whose peak was lost in the clouds of newspaper headlines praising Michael Hussey’s return from purgatory and his epic stand with Brad Haddin.
As with those two icons of English pluck (and ultimately tragedy) Mallory and Irving, we do not yet know whether Strauss and Cook did enough to lay the foundations of success in avoiding defeat. But by the time Cook and Trott walked back to the pavilion, play suspended for the day due to bad light, England had reached parity and batted themselves into credit for the loss of only their captain.
And a captain’s innings it was, too. That England will start the last day of this Gabba Test on 309-1, 88 runs ahead, is due in large part to the perfect instance of a skipper leading by example. Anything wide of off-stump was cut away; charges down the wicket ceased to become a novelty from this normally staid batsman, and we were treated to several sumptuous cover-drives – a sure sign that Andrew Strauss is up for taking the fight to the opposition.
When he fell for 110, stumped (for the first time in his career) off the bowling of part-timer Marcus North, his partnership with Cook was worth 188, the highest English partnership ever at the Gabba. When Cook brought up his 14th Test hundred with a sweetly-timed cut to the boundary, it was the first time both England openers had scored centuries against Australia since 1938.
That the wicket played flat and the bowling was toothless should not detract from England’s achievement yesterday, but Australian eyes will be focused in particular on Mitchell Johnson who seems to have suffered an almost catastrophic crisis of confidence.
Victory for England is almost certainly out of the question, but after finding themselves all out for 260 in the first innings, a draw will feel almost as good.
Base camp has been reached; the tent pegs hammered in; but there is still a long way to climb. As all adventurers know, sometimes the conditions have a habit of suddenly turning nasty.
All it will take will be for Johnson to rediscover his mojo, even temporarily, and if more than two wickets fall in the morning session, the climb to safety could yet turn out to be a rocky one.
But if England can continue where they left off when Cook and Trott take their guard this morning, the clouds obscuring the summit might just begin to lift.
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
There’s something strangely comforting in the familiar sense of helpless rage experienced on waking up to another bloody England collapse.
Truly, no winter is complete without it.
Having kept myself going throughout the night on a diet consisting almost entirely of coffee and foam bananas, I threw in the towel at tea time, when England were 171-4.
When I woke up this morning they were 260 all out, and Australia were 25 for the loss of no wickets.
The first over didn’t go so well.
Third delivery, Strauss got a ball from Hilfenhaus that seemed to nip back in and cramped him up; going for the pull he was out caught by Mike Hussey at gully. Rash shot or genuinely good ball? Bit of both, I think; nerves probably did for the England captain after all the relentless hype and talk leading up to this game.
Cook’s head is still falling over like a piss-head sailor negotiating a storm-tossed deck, but he played sensibly and solidly for the most part, that ugly-as-hell technique of his not such an issue since the ball wasn’t doing a heck of a lot.
Trott played well enough despite a couple of streaky boundaries and nervy edges that fell just short of fielders, but he batted with good intent and helped his team get a start. The fact he departed attempting a loose drive off a decent ball from Shane Watson is not a mistake he will want to repeat.
It is all too easy to hold Shane Watson up as a figure of fun, and he does bring it on himself, but he was the pick of the bowlers for me in the morning session, snaring Trott with one that nipped back off the seam, causing the England batsman to lose his shape while attempting to drive it through midwicket.
The small battle between Kevin Pietersen and new boy Xavier Doherty was entertaining, and nothing gave me more heart than watching KP charge down the wicket towards the debutant who immediately hurled the ball back at the batsman in anger. Tasty stuff.
There’d been a bit of hooha about Peter Siddle’s selection, with the explanation offered by Ponting for the omission of Bollinger not making a heck of a lot of sense (lack of match practice – a supreme piece of arsed-up logic).
Siddle proved the selectors had made the right decision in the most emphatic way possible.
Often referred to using the terms “blue collar” and “honest trier” – which sounds rather like a classic case of damning with faint praise – he proved to be England’s chief executioner. His hat-trick – Cook, tempted into playing forward to one that nipped away; Prior, full, straight, nipping back in, pegging back the off-stump; and perhaps the best of the three, the one that got Stuart Broad: full, straight, referred, upheld – was the bolt-gun to the forehead that knocked the legs of England’s batting out from under it.
It was a truly outstanding spell of bowling, an example of a canny bowler adapting to the conditions, a history-making passage of play that brings a cricket ground alive regardless of which side you are supporting.
After viewing that spell over a late breakfast, catching up on the action I missed when I retired to bed, I am more inclined now towards the philosophical where England’s situation in this match is concerned.
Had Siddle not bowled so superbly, Ian Bell, playing beautifully and with more assuredness than I have ever seen him play in a Test, would have gotten his ton and England would possibly have added another 100 runs to their total.
Instead he came up against a bowler seen as second best by many and with a point to prove, and whose removal of the batsmen at the other end put the mockers on a total of 350 plus, quite achievable on this deck.
England’s bowlers now have it all to do. I fear Day 2 might turn out to be a very long one.
Saturday, November 13th, 2010
England’s plan to fly out early to Australia and get in some match practice ahead of the Ashes is a great idea.
Folks such as Pietersen, Cook and Collingwood have been spending time in the middle batting themselves back into form, shaking off the rust and honing themselves – more or less – into smoothly running cogs in England’s well-oiled machine.
A handy six-wicket win against Western Australia; a comfortable draw against some hit-me bowling at the Adelaide Oval, with a match against an Australia A side at Hobart still to come: so far, so good for the tourists.
For the England fan though, it is just one big, long cock-tease.
Australia are on the ropes after their hammering at the hands of Sri Lanka and look to be a side in disarray.
Hysteria is sweeping the rank and file of the Aussie press and if you don’t believe me, one newspaper had Marcus North down as future captain. Where the fuck do you even start with that one: a player who, while not quite the duffer many people view him as, is not even inked in to the side as a batsman.
Pressure is piling on Ponting – with some saying this series might be his last if he doesn’t perform, both as captain and player – and the search for a spinner who won’t get his arse handed to him on a plate continues.
While Andrew Strauss is far too sensible to underestimate the enemy on their own turf, one could be forgiven for giving vent to some guarded optimism (or in my case, the wildly unrealistic fantasy – read “delusion of grandeur”, if you will – of seeing the phrase “ENGLAND JUGGERNAUT” appearing in headlines come Melbourne, and if that is not tempting fate, I don’t know what the heck is).
This series of tour matches, while proving good preparation, is like waiting for the main course in a Michelin-starred restaurant while chewing like a rabid dog on breadsticks. They are quite nice breadsticks, and are keeping the worst of your hunger at bay, but your premium steak is taking its time, you are getting impatient, and you want something’s flesh.
Practice matches are all very well. But I want to be hallucinating with tiredness from sitting in my own filth for eight hours; to be knee-deep in two weeks’ worth of newspapers; I want four different windows open on my computer screen and three different audio commentary streams; to yell like a deranged motherfucker every time a wicket falls, wake everyone within a fifty-yard radius and be the first recipient of a cricket-related ASBO; I want every poor unwitting bastard who asks me how I think the cricket’s going to wish THEY’D NEVER FUCKING ASKED.
I WANT THE ASHES, AND I WANT THEM NOW, GODDAMMIT.
Thursday, October 28th, 2010
So far, the trash-talking and shit-stirring ahead of the upcoming Ashes has been a bit disappointing.
Let’s just say the “war of words” has had a few false starts in the last couple of months, with England not really “putting their hand up” and coming to this particular party when it comes to dishing out and returning the verbals.
Back in June, Andrew Flintoff made a game attempt to kick things off. After observing the Aussies’ defeat by 3 wickets in their second Test against Pakistan, he opined that “Australia are not the force they used to be,” and that “England are now favourites” for the Ashes series which begins in November.
“Last time we lost 5-0 but this time it will be very different.”
And the response from down under? Nada. Nothing. A brave opening sally, but one that fell on stony ground.
Then Ricky Ponting woke up, remembered he was now the proud bearer of Steve Waugh’s banner of Mental Disintegration, and, deciding on no half measures, warned England that it was “entirely possible” that Australia would win 5-0… “They’ve got no one there who’s going to surprise us at all.”
While most of us laughed (a couple of us with nervous bravado while harbouring the nagging thought that shit, it is completely possible that England could indeed be on the receiving end of a 5-0 hammering), Jonathan Trott thoughtfully scratched his chin and offered the sage observation that perhaps it was a bit silly of Punter to be putting so much pressure on himself and his team.
For christ’s sake, Jonathan. Where is the bombast, the rage, the slighted pride, the “come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough” appetite for a bit of the old “you and me: outside”? Even Imran Farhat seemed to be entering into the spirit of the thing with more enthusiasm, levelling his own relish-laden chirp at Australia: “Personally I think they are going DOWN!” And he’s not even playing in this bloody competition.
Then fast bowling legend Dennis Lillee decided to give it a go in stirring up English ire by criticizing England’s bowlers, saying that even without Warne and McGrath, Australia has the better bowling attack. The only person who could be arsed to rise to this bait was Allan Lamb, and he and Lillee are mates so that doesn’t even really count.
So far, so underwhelming. Not even renowned spouter of gnomic bullshit John Buchanan could light a match under England’s bollocks with his targeting of Kevin Pietersen as England’s “weak link”, referring to KP’s recent slump in form.
KP disdainfully treated the comment with the little consideration it deserved, calling Buchanan “a nobody”.
“All he’s ever done is coach the best team in the history of cricket. Anyone could have done that.”
This is hardly trash-talking so much as an eminently reasonable observation. Like I’ve said before, Warne and McGrath’s Australia was one team that pretty much coached and captained itself.
Finally last night, in desperation, Cricket Australia beamed a giant image of Ponting and Michael Clarke onto the side of Big Ben as if to say, “Ha! Ignore this, you bastards!” The image was accompanied by the reminder: “Don’t forget to pack the urn”. Despite the fact the urn is, and always will be, housed in a case at Lord’s, is not an actual trophy, etc etc.
Andrew Strauss, in his last press conference prior to flying off to Perth tomorrow, declared himself amused at these latest shenanigans and – looking every inch the elder statesman except when questioned about Graeme Swann’s mention on Twitter of being unable to locate his passport, upon which he sounded instead like your granddad struggling to switch on a computer – said:
“I think you can spend hours trying to think up witty retorts to comments or you can spend hours trying to get your game in order. We have an excellent chance of winning over there, we are a good tight unit, we know what to expect and can’t wait to get over there.”
Jesus. It’s almost like England want to let their cricket do the talking or something.