Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Time to End All This Chaos; TUESDAY Commentary

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Time to End All This Chaos; TUESDAY Commentary

Article excerpt

Byline: Stuart Rayner

NOW the England cricket team has followed Christmas tradition by losing an Ashes series before the Queen's speech, the post-mortem can begin.

Those calling for Duncan Fletcher's head would do well to remember that were it not for the Zimbabwean's coaching, this latest hammering Down Under would have been just as expected as the last goodness knows how many.

Fletcher cannot and will not be absolved of all blame but sacking him has the feel of a knee-jerk reaction.

After the last Ashes tour, chairman of selectors David Graveney declared England would never again send half-fit players to compete for the game's biggest prize.

Yet the David Graveney who presided over the selection of Ashley Giles, James Anderson and the mentally unfit Marcus Trescothick in 2006 (not to mention Steven Harmison, Andrew Flintoff and Liam Plunkett) looked uncannily similar.

Having taken the gamble, giving the players the right preparation was vital.

Pundits and former players suggested Giles and the rest play Australian club cricket in the lead-up to the series.

Instead, Giles went to the ICC Trophy as a net bowler, Flintoff just as a batsman, Harmison was left out of the final match when the bigger picture demanded he play and Trescothick and Plunkett stayed at home.

But the whole squad arrived in Australia under-cooked because international cricketers and their bosses value appeasing wives and children above properly preparing for their jobs.

A one-dayer, a 14-aside game and one First Class match was never going to get a fully-fit squad ready to take on the world's best Test team on their own patch, never mind a patched-up one.

The Australians all had a couple of state games before the series and at the Gabba it showed. By the time England got up to speed it was too late.

Different players need different things to be ready for Test cricket but England's best bowler, Ashington-born Harmison, needs time in the middle and overs in his legs to find rhythm. …

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