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HORSE-RACING/Prince Charles is in Canada, the Queen is expected to go there next year and William is preparing to go to New Zealand and Australia – but are there signs that the locals are revolting?

Polls published in advance of Charles’ visit show support for Canada’s constitutional monarchy is weak, even if the public’s frosty opinion of the Prince of Wales himself has begun to warm just a bit.

Sixty percent of Canadians felt the constitutional monarchy was outdated, although 80 percent said it was an important part of Canadian history.

Polls in New Zealand show people generally in favour of the monarchy even if it seems to have little relevance to their lives but when William heads off afterwards to Australia he will find a much more developed republican movement.

from Left field:

And so the search for a new Flintoff begins…

In the wake of England’s Ashes triumph over Australia, a huge question awaits...can England find a replacement for Andrew Flintoff?

He has been the scourge of the opposition for so long. His importance was underlined in this series where despite being half-fit he managed to knock over the tourists at Lord’s to claim five wickets and even ran out Australian captain Ricky Ponting at the Oval (which he said on Monday was probably the first time he’s ever run somebody out).

from Left field:

England regain the Ashes — your views

CRICKET-ASHES/

England have regained the Ashes after beating Australia by 197 runs at the Oval to seal a 2-1 series victory.

How important was Andrew Flintoff's run out of Ricky Ponting when the Australia captain looked well set? Flintoff did little with bat or ball in his last test before retiring but still made sure he grabbed the headlines.

from Left field:

Ill discipline costs England again

flintoffHeard 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.

from Left field:

Should England bring back Ramprakash for Ashes decider?

rampsEngland 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?

Possible replacements include Jonathan Trott, who was called into the squad at Headingley, Robert Key of Kent and even 39-year-old Mark Ramprakash as a one-off experiment.

from Left field:

Battle-weary Australia need Lee fit and in form

brettleeAustralia have far more limited options than England when they consider changes to their
battle-weary side for the fourth Ashes test
 starting on Friday at Headingley, with their main hope of fresh impetus resting on the fitness of Brett Lee.

England had the luxury of bringing in fresh blood on Tuesday, calling up fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom and uncapped batsman Jonathan Trott for the first time this series, while again putting Steve Harmison on standby in a 14-man squad.

from Left field:

Can England afford to call on fragile Flintoff again?

cricketIn the end it wasn't about the two S's, Swann and swing, it came down to the two P's, patience and perseverance, as Australia's batsmen swept away England hopes of a 2-0 Ashes series lead by holding on for a draw at Edgbaston. The challenge for Australia and their batting line-up now is to perform like that in the first innings of a test to put pressure on England, and not just in the second when they need to save a game.

This match didn't get the denouement it deserved after the thrilling cricket played on Friday and Sunday, but mother nature can hold up her hand and take the blame for that. Just one more day's play could have provided an intriguing finish, but it wasn't to be.

from Left field:

Flintoff again the talisman as England defeat Australia

Lord's rose to its feet to acclaim Andrew Flintoff after his five wickets helped England beat Australia by 115 runs to go 1-0 up in the Ashes series.

The home crowd was especially delighted given England had not beaten the old enemy at the home of cricket since 1934.

from Left field:

Ashes analysis: Any result is possible after more great cricket

It takes guts, skill, determination and more than anything patience to win a test match and that is why the longest form of cricket is still one of the greatest challenges that a sportsman can face.

And England will need all the patience that human nature can muster if they are to wear down and eventually beat this resolute Australian side, which managed to recover from 128 for five to close on 313 with the loss of no further wickets, chasing another 209 runs for victory.

from Left field:

Defiant England escape with draw in first Ashes Test

CRICKET-ASHES/

I'm still not quite sure how, but somehow England escaped with a draw from the first Ashes Test against Australia, closing out the fifth day on 252-9, 13 runs ahead of the Aussie total and with no time left for the tourists to bat.

Talk about getting out of jail. Ricky Ponting must have thought he had the match won when England were five wickets down and still facing a massive 137-run deficit in the morning sessions.

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