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Insights from the UK and beyond

from Left field:

More Freelance Flintoffs might serve England well

flintoffAndrew Flintoff's decision to forego a contract with England and set himself up as an elite cricket freelancer has provoked a fair amount of grumbling in the media, with words like "mercenary" and "snub" being bandied about all over the place.

But whether you consider Flintoff's decision ungrateful or not, consider for a moment whether it might not work out to England's advantage.

As others have said, there's nothing really new in Flintoff's decision to go it alone. Other cricketers have made themselves available as players for hire in different parts of the world over a season.

The difference here is that Flintoff has made it clear that he is still available to play for his country at one-day international and Twenty20 level ... and looking at the country's recent results, how they need him.

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:

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:

Defiant England escape with draw in first Ashes Test


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.

from Left field:

Ashes day 4: England had no luck, and nor did they deserve it

CRICKET-ASHES/For a third day in row England's demoralised bowlers wheeled away with all the luck of someone who's just walked across the path a black cat and smashed a mirror while walking under a ladder.

In all honesty they didn't deserve any fortune after another day's abject bowling display and signs from Strauss early on that it was a damage limitation exercise by time wasting with field placings and underbowling key bowlers.

from Left field:

Ashes day one: advantage Australia?


What an extraordinary first day of Test match cricket, even by Ashes standards. A day that ebbed and flowed, that tormented and teased both sets of supporters and ultimately left us with the question: where does the balance of this match lie?

As Kev notes, lunch for England would have been the equivalent of trying to digest tarmac, a disconcerting affair to say the least. Having won the toss and electing to bat England were reduced to 92-3 by a persevering if unspectacular Australian attack, which left the Barmy Army cowering behind their beer snakes fearing the worst.

Should Pietersen have walked?


England cricket is in deep disarray after the decision by captain Kevin Pietersen to resign as a result of his public spat with coach Peter Moores over the direction and training of the team.

Moores himself has been sacked and the race is on to restore morale ahead of a tour of the West Indies later this month and this Summer’s Ashes series.

Can Bradman’s record be broken?


bradman.jpgAustralian cricketer Don Bradman was born 100 years ago — on Aug. 27 1908 in the New South Wales country town of Cootamundra.

His feats on the cricket pitch were the stuff of legend. He averaged 100 runs every three innings and by the time he retired in 1948 his test batting average was a record 99.94 — perhaps the most famous number in cricketing history.

Is Pietersen the man for the Ashes?


vaughan.jpg(This Have Your Say was updated after Kevin Pietersen’s appointment) Kevin Pietersen has been named as Michael Vaughan’s replacement as England cricket captain.Vaughan, England’s most successful cricket captain, stepped down after a series of disappointing performances at the crease and the loss of the current Test series to South Africa.Dubbed “Me Ego” by the South Africans for his flamboyant style of playing, do you think Pietersen is the man to take England on to regain the Ashes next year? Can he put the interests of the team ahead of his own indomitable style?The South African-born player has negligible captaining experience.Have Alastair Cook, for example, Andrew Strauss, Freddie Flintoff and Robert Key been unfairly overlooked?And should Vaughan have walked so soon?