Ben Stokes is a large, brightly-coloured straw

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You can see him a mile off. Clutch him. CLUTCH HIM!

It’s not so much that he scored a hundred on what was actually a fairly even, true pitch between the cracks. It’s more that he looked unruffled. Any idiot can bat, but hardly anyone can bat in the muggy atmosphere that surrounds a team being battered in an Ashes series.

The wheels don’t just come off when England do badly in Australia. They also explode, maiming bystanders. If any player can hit his own mouth with a sandwich, he’s doing okay right now. Stokes-o hit a hundred.

In a sense, the pressure was off a bit, but it’s pretty good to do this at the age of 22 and it’s pretty handy that he bowls a bit as well.

Rejoice, England fans – not quite everything is shit.


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  1. Really? Because if he’s being picked as a batsman who can bowl a bit, that’s a problem. He’s not one of the best batsmen in England (Division One CC now being a fairly good measuring stick), and shouldn’t be picked for England for his batting.

    It’s not actually that difficult to get one big Ashes score (see: Agar, Ashton), and I fear that in a year or two’s time he’ll be dropped after “failing to fulfil his promise”.

    Far too early for silver linings. All is darkness. The silvery glow is actually the first intimation of the lightning that is about to leap from the black clouds and stab us to death with its pointy electrical knives.

  2. We’re in the pre-Christmas drop-a-thon now, so getting into the seasonal spirit of it, I thought I’d prepare a list of those players who haven’t contributed sufficiently over the last year, and who are therefore proper candidates for the chop:


    Clearly this is a facetious list – nobody would drop Anderson. But the point is that there are as many reasons for dropping half the Australian team as there are for dropping half the England team. LEAVE THEM ALONE! Selection for the MCG should be easy right now. Who do we want in the team for Trent Bridge? Job done.

    Oh and by the way BBC, can we have more of Tony Blair lecturing on world peace please? Failing that, more of Geoffrey Boycott discussing the lack of team spirit will do.

    1. Yeah.

      But also, nobody remembers what happens after the Ashes have been lost. So surely now is the time to give the young ‘uns some experience. The senior guys need a rest. Anderson, Swann, Broad and KP out. Ballance, Bairstow, Rankin and Panesar in.

      I know that seems extreme. And there’s no way they’ll do it. I’m not even sure I’d do it.

    2. Not sure many young players particularly benefit from the experience of being hammered and mocked. Not sure that ‘toughens you up’ idea really carries much weight.

    3. Also, the ‘bring in the youngsters’ idea isn’t exactly how Australia have turned their side around. Not saying England should copy them, but it shows what can be achieved in even a short amount of time.

    4. It’s been a rare delight to be woken up by the baby, turn the radio on, hear the score, and give him some milk while listening to Boycott deliver that special insight which only comes to a man who was known for giving advice as to how to get his team-mates out while chatting to the wicket-keeper.

      Not sure “F**k you Geoffrey” will catch on as a lullaby, but it works for me.

    5. Fair point. Many a successful career was made in the 90s through not getting picked for the final Test of an English summer. But will flogging Anderson, Swann and co into the ground help much either?

    6. @KC: Back to the days when England are copying Australia, are we now? I remember the late 90s — where the English cricketing setup would try to copy how Australian cricketers took dumps in order to learn how to play better.

  3. I don’t think senior players should be rested. What are we resting them for, the T20s??? A test match is the pinnacle of the game, particularly an Ashes one, dead rubber or not, and should be played by the best 11 available.

    1. They’re resting a few of the senior players after the tests, so they won’t play the T20s anyway, if I recall.

      What value should be placed now on runs and wickets in these two dead rubbers? And do runs and wickets in a dead Ashes rubber count for more than runs and wickets in other dead rubbers?

    2. We used to be good at dead Ashes matches. In the 90s we had a great record in them. Recently we’ve been shit in those too.

  4. Others have been mentioning it but I think it is worth saying, especially for the younger readers, that this is the first time in a while that we’ve been able to properly savour that English speciality – the Dead Rubber Ashes Test.

    Many, if not most, of our finest performances have been in Dead Rubbers, as I’m sure you will recall. Who could forget the 5th test in 2003 (Vaughan 183; Caddick 7 for 94). Or the 6th test of ’93, when Steve Watkin took 4 for 65 to roll the Aussies over for 229 2nd innings. And of course, the unforgettable 4th test of 2001 at Leeds, when Mark Butcher (173 not out) so completely destroyed the Australians’ long-term confidence that their only response was to score 641 for 4 and win by an innings at the Oval later that same week.

    1. It is quite staggeringly comprehensive. He writes about politics normally. Reassuring to think he’s so able to see the bigger picture.

    2. ah, thanks for that sam. highly HIGHly entertaining… lmao

      there’s nothing quite like the sight (even virtually) of some puffed-up tory tit-wrench frothing at the mouth with righteous indignation… surprised he didn’t suggest bringing back hanging for KP, the way he was carrying on there…

  5. Michael Carberry.

    Don’t Rate him. He seems to start and then go out when the bowler changes the angle. Everyone keeps saying he has done well, he has in comparison to the rest of the useless lot, but i would get rid.

    Sorry, its been annoying me.

    1. It is a funny one, because the selectors really didn’t have the next Ashes in mind when they selected him. However, marginal players are likely to be selected on this basis before too long, so he could find himself out on his ear almost no time after arriving, despite having batted reasonably well.

    2. 18 months! You mean we have to wait a whole year-and-a-half for the next Ashes series? That’s insane, nobody can wait that long.

      Does England have any tests in February? No, so why on earth can’t we get another Ashes series in then? Sometimes you wonder whether the people in charge of cricket are as effective as they are reputed to be.

    3. Don’t worry, Bert. We’ve still got shitloads of one-day matches against them, by which time the two teams will be just about ready to rip each other’s eyes out.

    4. Meanwhile the rest of the “cricketing world” (whatever that is) can get f**ked.

      (Are the asterisks strictly necessary? I didn’t hear Michael Clarke trill “broken f**kin arm”, I’m sure I heard a “uc” in there. Is this a family blog? My children certainly aren’t allowed to read it.)

  6. If there is one thing England and the rest of the world can learn from Australia right now, it is that this mantra of “fresh blood” is a pile of rubbish. I propose that future test selections meet high standards of aging. A higher than average systolic pressure should be a minimum. Shortness of breath while walking from the slips to third man should be eagerly welcomed. Your arthritis-ridden left leg acting up while fielding in long-leg should practically guarantee your inclusion in the squad.

    1. We’ll said. I tried to add Brad Haddin’s and Ryan Harris’s ages together earlier, but my calculator ran out of capacity.

  7. I,d clutch at Stokes. He seems to be the one “warrior” left standing (let’s not even speak of assasins,hem) (remember that? The English team full of ”assassins” and ”warriors” according to your team performance psychologist Mark Bawden?)

    Perhaps he could take over from Bawden (who has possibly disappeared down a crack in the WACA pitch in embarrassment).

  8. hmmm there was an all rounder playing for Tasmania about a decade ago batted top 4 , bowled at about 145km was surely the next great all rounder …Shane Watson…
    Stokes will come good long term as long as he does not forget what got him there , the ability to bat AND bowl. As soon as he starts thinking he is either a dedicated batsman or dedicated bowler he will be crap ( see Cameron White , Shane Watson , Ravi Bopara etc etc)He has also been on the end of a couple of thrashing by Australia and still seems to be able and willing to compete unlike the rest of his team who have performed admirably as a pack of surrender monkeys.

  9. I’m preferring automatic now – no clutch required.

    I recall advocating Stokes as Trott’s replacement around here at a very early stage of proceedings.

    But he is only 22 and has needed to be accelerated into the England set up ahead of schedule, perhaps a year or two ahead. His England returns will probably be a bit hit and miss for a while.

    1. Yep, just seeing him getting in line and standing tall behind some short pitched Johnson offerings in the first innings said quite a lot for his future as a test batsman.

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