Saturday, 29 August 2009

Settlers and sons: Roebuck, get a grip!

(A version of this article appeared on Cricinfo's "Inbox" blog in September 2009)

I’m a regular follower of Peter Roebuck’s columns for Cricinfo and the Sydney Morning Herald. The former Somerset captain is certainly one of the most eloquent and thought-provoking cricket writers around today. His most recent opinion piece for Cricinfo Magazine, however, a warning to English cricket that it’s “no time for back-slapping,” strikes me as faintly ridiculous, and some of the comments in it regarding English-born Asian cricketers I find really rather disconcerting.

The Sydney-based Roebuck has long maintained that Aussie dominance in the Ashes is a fitting reflection of the contrast between (what he perceives to be) the vibrant and competitive “prevailing culture” in his adopted home and a chronic national malaise back in the old country. It seems the Australian team’s sudden fall from grace has upset his worldview. Convinced that “English culture” still lacks “vim and vigour,” he looks elsewhere for an explanation for England’s recent success.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Would Rashid be a rash choice for the Oval Test?

Cricket - Durham v Yorkshire LV County Championship Division One
Is it time for Ramps’ last dance, or is Key needed to unlock England’s middle order problems? Does either of these contenders deserve to overtake the fast-rising Trott? As far as shoring up England’s batting is concerned, the drastic suggestions - and bad tabloid headlines - have been coming thick and fast. Some have even proposed a one-stop shop at Tresco, causing the poor man to wake up in a cold sweat at the very thought.

As far as I’m concerned, however, England’s real problem lies elsewhere. None of the four first class matches played at the Oval so far this year have yielded a positive result, with rain interruptions to blame on only one of those occasions. Surrey Chief Executive Paul Sheldon has declared that his groundsman Bill Gordon will not be “cooking the books” to help England and intends to produce a traditional hard, flat Oval wicket. England’s real problem, then, is how to take twenty wickets; the composition of the bowling attack should be the chief topic of discussion when the selectors convene.

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