Thursday, 21 May 2015


Watching some of the fields that Brendon McCullum has set in recent times has been an absolute breath of fresh air. The antithesis of a couple of slips with a third man as the insurance policy, is great to watch and has been rewarded. McCullum captains the way he plays, taking the game to the opposition and this is what England need to start doing. Positivity is rewarded in the game, the aggressive approach and for me, the last few years watching England have lacked this.

 'Staying in the game' does have its place. Ashley Giles bowling over the wicket to Tendulkar for instance with a 7-2 field, strangled the living daylights out of him, resulted in a famous stumping a few years ago. The turgid wickets prepared for the Ashes a couple of years ago, were also needed as our spinner in Graeme Swann was far better than Agar and Co that the Aussies had. Saying that an Aga Cooker was quicker than some of the tracks prepared then. Sometimes in cricket, you do need to go on the defensive and 'stay in the game'.

To take this approach on a long term basis though produces dull cricket, and this is the reason why England have been a poor side for a number of years.

Watching Stokes and Root counter attack with lack of abandon today, either side of lunch was a joy to behold and produced some thrilling cricket. Two English youngsters playing with freedom and giving it back to the oppo was great to watch. Also, to see McCullum's fields of four slips first thing this morning and leaving the covers open was also wonderful to see and this is what makes the game a great battle. McCullum is openly inviting the batters to drive through this region but also saying that 'if you don't get it right, then you are going to nick off to my slip cordon'.This field sorted England out for just over a hundred odd in the World Cup, and reduced us to 30-4 this morning. I tweeted that England were like Mark Knopfler; in Dire Straits. We were more like Doctor Fox; in deep shit.

Stokes and Root...counter attack

Alastair Cook needs to be a bit more daring in his approach. When we won the 2005 series we came up against a side who were very positive in their approach, in the Aussies. They scored quickly and hardly ever drew a game, Yes, the weather in Australia might be one reason behind that, but they weren't afraid to lose. Compare them with the South African side of that era, who weren't far short in terms of talent, but as wide as the distance from Durban to Perth in terms of attitude.

Michael Vaughan in 2005 decided to go at them hard. Harmison cutting Ponting at Lord's sent out a message but we had to score quickly, and the 400 on the first day at Edgbaston was for me, much more of a turning point in that series. Vaughan and his side set their stall out. KP, Trescothick, Flintoff and Co scored at a fair old lick and took the game to the Aussies. No one had gone back at them like that previously and they didn't like it.

Great skippers make great cricket. I love the fact that there is still the place for a draw in some club cricket, watching a good skipper at work, dangling the carrot with men around the bat and getting his spinners on. Ring fields, a diet of seamers and keeping the runs down is about as interesting as watching reality television like Big Brother...when they are asleep.

A proper field!

The best side in England at present are Yorkshire. They score quickly, they have a leg spinner in their ranks and their seamers might go for a few, as they keep the ball up to the bat but they also get the opposition to nick off behind more than anyone else. Jack Brooks has been a beneficiary of this, and their coach (funnily enough a member of that Australian side) says he isn't bothered about runs per over conceded. It is one of the reasons that Yorkshire are so good at present.

It is also the reason why the English public has taken to Stokes. He is positive and 'gives it some' as we say. It is why we took to Flintoff, Botham and others. Around the world Hadlee, Imran, Chris Gayle, Viv Richards and many others are admired by all cricket fans because they were positive and scored quickly.

Let's see England get more aggressive. Let's see them take the game to the opposition and be more positive. That is the way we can beat the Aussies this summer.

The time for parking the bus is over.

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