The Reuters global sports blog
Heard the one about the English batsmen who just couldn’t resist nibbling at balls way outside off stump? It is an all too common occurrence and is the main reason why England fell short of a good first innings total in the deciding Ashes test.
Of course, flashing away outside the off-stump isn’t just a disease to afflict English batsmen, although the problem does appear to be more acute on these shores than any where else.
It’s an epidemic that has spread with the invention and subsequent proliferation of one-day cricket, which encourages the batsman’s need to dominate and unsettle the opposition’s bowlers.
The difference in test cricket is that the bowler is not required by the laws to bowl such a tight line around the stumps and therefore has more weapons in his armoury.
England will be under huge pressure to make changes for the deciding Ashes test at the Oval and the middle order is the obvious place to start, with Ravi Bopara, Ian Bell and Paul Collingwood contributing just 16 runs in six innings at Headingley.
So what should England do about it?
Former England cricket captain Michael Vaughan has confirmed the recent rumours and announced his immediate retirement from all cricket.
The move follows the 34-year-old’s failure to be called up for a training squad ahead of the home Ashes series with Australia.
England may argue that they were unlucky to exit the World Twenty20 following a five-wicket defeat by West Indies but the simple truth is that they batted poorly throughout the tournament.
With the honourable exceptions of Ravi Bopara and Kevin Pietersen, the batsmen completely failed to get to grips with the art of scoring runs in this form of the game.
There was much tut-tutting* when we heard there were still 19,000 tickets available for the first cricket Test at Lord’s — officially the first day of summer for those of us brought up in the UK.
So only 15,000 or so were brave enough to book a day off work and pay a small fortune for a ticket to watch today’s first day — at best around a fifth of the first of two matches between two teams who only finished playing each other in the Caribbean a couple of months ago — and that if the weather holds.