Left field

The Reuters global sports blog

England cannot underestimate Australia’s new mix

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The selection of Australia’s Ashes squad has compounded England’s worst fears. This is a team more than capable of successfully defending the little urn.

There may be no Shane Warne, Adam Gilchirst or Glenn McGrath in the lineup but what the squad lacks in star quality it makes up for in depth.

Players were picked on form and not reputation. For the first time since the golden generation retired, Australia’s selectors chose a side without having to panic.

They now possess one of the longest batting lineups in recent test history with Mitchell Johnson, who bats at eight, averaging 34.70 and coming off the back of an unbeaten century against South Africa.

Where cricket is concerned, more does not mean better

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clarkeBright spring sunshine hit Lord’s on Saturday but with England’s first Test against West Indies having finished inside three days there was no one there to enjoy it.

Instead, the England and Wales Cricket Board were left gloomily counting the lost gate receipts for the final two days of the earliest Test yet staged in England.

More frustration for Flintoff, and for England fans

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Freddie Flintoff breaks down playing IPL cricket and needs an operation on his knee, news that comes as no great surprise to cricket fans, at least if twitterers on the subject are a good guide.

“Flintoff crocked again. Honestly, I’ve won more robust things at the fairground,” said theskiver in a fairly typical comment.

Hoggard deserves better

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I saw this story and was very surprised. The usually mild-mannered Matthew Hoggard has hit out at his treatment after being dropped by the England cricket side 13 months ago.

“My contact with the ECB has been zero and so I’m completely and utterly not even thinking about a recall,” said the 32-year-old pace bowler, who was part of the attack which beat Australia in 2005.

New England coach Flower is used to daunting tasks

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Andy Flower, appointed England director of cricket on Wednesday, was responsible with Zimbabwe team mate Henry Olonga for a startling and unprecedented protest in his team’s opening 2003 World Cup match.

Flower and Olonga took the field against Namibia in Harare on Feb. 10, 2003, wearing black armbands to “mourn the death of democracy in our beloved Zimbabwe”.

Opinions divided on England’s Ashes leg-up to Aussies

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The recent announcement that two Australian cricketers will play English county cricket before the Ashes has been met with stinging criticism and bewilderment in the UK.

Opening batsman Phil Hughes, who’s just played in the third test against South Africa and is fresh from becoming the youngest batsman (at 20) to hit two centuries in a match, and opening bowler Stuart Clark, chief destroyer of England in the 2006-7 Ashes with 26 wickets, will play for Middlesex and Kent respectively.

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