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August 03, 2005



True, but don't sports coaches say "I can't put in what God left out"?


True, but don't sports coaches say "I can't put in what God left out"?


You should sound like Trueman - one of nature's number 11 sloggers who worked on his batting until at the end of his career he was going in at 7 for Yorkshire. I'm old enough to remember this.

I'm inclined to think this is a function of the bottomless appetite of the media for instant "celebrities", now usually celebrated chiefly for being celebrities, which leads young athletes to believe that if they don't spring fully armed from the head of Jove, they'll get a bum deal and be left on the bench. (Sorry, metaphor pile up there.)

Paul Davies

I'd be careful with the Cantona/Zola/Bergkamp thing - and you can extend that to Di Canio, Le Tissier etc - they all spent longer on the training ground than anyone else, but mainly because they just liked playing the game more than the others. It doesn't mean Cantona/Le Tiss/whoever spent hours and hours perfecting the short pass so they could play like Makelele - the point with these genius types is that they can do all the simple shit already, it bores them to do it over and over again, much likely running around like a Beckham, it's just not as much fun, and the motivation for tracking back is never going to be the same as the motivation for running rings around the defence.

It's the same with the English language in a way - those that have mastered it break its rules all the time, because it entertains them (and their audience) more than anything else.

Back to the cricket, I think you always need a balance, and England are perhaps a bit flair-heavy at the mo, but as Pietersen has shown, these guys can play sensibly when they need to, they're good like that. There will always be a place for an Atherton at the top of the order and a Makelele in the middle of the park, but by no means are they MORE important than the KPs and the Le Tissiers.


Good point you're making, but Atherton, Boycott and Hussain all had vast amounts of natural talent. They all became blockers, which might have affected our opinion of them.

Andrew Strauss would, I'm sure, dispute your opinion too. He is by no means massively talented, but has worked tirelessly to achieve his goals and get to the top of the world.

Sorry, I'm sounding like a moaning old cricket anorak! Just thought I'd balance it out a little though...


Well, I think Hoggard, for example, has improved his batting tremendously. And whilst he may always be looking for the big shot, Harmison has some impressive shots for a no 10!

As for practice; yes, to a certain extent it's needed. It was wrong to keep Anderson abck so long. But if we're talking about central contracts, then we want to be keeping our best bowlers out of game situations on a semi-regular basis, purely to prevent burnout.

nick mallory

i think this is a little unfair on the england team - who are after all outplaying the best team in the world at the moment.

freddie flintoff was widely ridiculed for being an overweight underachiever at the start of his test career, as his bowling regressed to short defensive spells and his batting usually promised far more than it delivered. through hard work he's got fit, become perhaps our most feared strike bowler and become a major test batsman.

simon jones has recovered from a career threatening knee injury to master reverse swing and has perhaps been the best fast bowler in the series.

kevin pieterson actually started off as an off spinner in south africa and has turned himself into a match winning attacking batsman for england after finding his path blocked by racial quotas in his native land.

atherton and hussain had to temper their stroke playing because of the weakness of the batting around them. especially as captains they felt that if they got out the rest of the team might crumble. had they been surrounded by some more flair players their own flair would have been able to blossom more freely.

one of the charms of cricket is that a good team requires such an interestig mix of completely different skills, physiques, attitudes and personalities. even the great west indian team of the early eighties had the absurdly limited larry gomes bolstering its explosive middle order. england however made an important decision at the start of the series, to pick the explosive young match winning pieterson over the experienced, old, face saving graham thorpe. who would now say such a decision was wrong?

talent is vital but i don't think the current crop of england cricketers show any want of application. the wasted days of gower and lamb and bothom - when practise was seen as a joke by these sublimely talented players - are gone.

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