Archive for the ‘graham thorpe’ Category

July 19, 2010

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

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Regular readers of this column will know how highly I regard England spinner Graeme Swann. Swanny’s been on the circuit for years and has honed his craft to perfection – it’s as simple as that, no question. But you have to question his decision to clamber behind the wheel following a skinfull just after Christmas, for sure. I mean, what was he thinking? For sure, international cricket is intense and it’s natural for any player to want to unwind – that is not in question. I don’t begrudge any young cricketer having a few beers after a game – it’s all part of the camradcamracamor … spirit of being in a happy and successful unit. And don’t get me wrong – that’s important, without doubt. I’ve got a lot of respect for the Swann-ster and I know he can put this behind him and bounce back – he simply cannot let this affect his performances on the field, it’s as simple as that. I’m telling you, he has learnt a valuable lesson here – and that’s a fact.

I have to say I’ve lost a lot of respect for the Swann-meister following this incident, although I still think he’s a wholehearted and gutsy performer who deserves a lot of respect. And that’s the truth of the matter, let there be no doubt. For what it’s worth, my opinion is that copious drinking is fine, and a cracking way to get to know your teammates and opponents better in my opinion. In my opinion it’s a great ice-breaker, no doubt. But driving immediately afterwards is a bad thing and there are NO EXCUSES for it, apart from in genuine emergencies, such as rushing your mum to hospital or re-parking in order to allow your mate to move his Jag out of the pub car park. Other than that, it is ZERO TOLERANCE from me – simple as. Young Swann-o would receive shrot shirftshort shiftshrort shrift … an angry glare if he got his car keys out down my local after 6 pints – make no mistake about it. Unless he had a bloody good reason for it, such as showing his mates his new stereo unit or indulging in relations of the carnal variety with one of his fans. Otherwise, he can take a running jump as far as I’m concerned – for definite.

Now I don’t wish to dwell on G-Man’s misdemeanours, as he’s a top bloke and quality cricketer, no question, and I understand that life on the cricketing circuit these days can be tough – that much is understood. But what I don’t understand is how come he didn’t just order a taxi? Or at least leave it half an hour and buy a bag of chips to soak up the alcohol BEFORE he even THOUGHT about getting in that car – truth be told, it was an act of lunacy, pure and simple. Without wishing to dwell on this sorry matter any further, I just hope this doesn’t adversely affect GS’s chances in the upcoming Ashes series this winter – England need their premier spinner firing on all cylinders come the Brisbane test this winter, and that’s a fact, no question of a doubt whatsoever. What the lad DOESN’T need is for this incident to weigh on his mind throughout that series, as this would be the last thing he’d need – that’s for certain. What I’m saying is that the Aussies will be looking to capitalise in any way possible – make no mistake. The Aussies are a filthy bunch of convicts who would use any underhand means available to undermine their opposition – and they will be smarting from last year’s Ashes defeat for sure, no doubt about it. The best thing G-Dogg can do is to keep his head, and keep his head down and concentrate on letting the ball do the talking – in the end, it’s wickets that talk, and the G-Unit needs to let his wickets do the talking, that’s for certain.

At the end of the day, Ponting & Co. will be armed and ready for battle – question is, will Swann be able to stay off the wagon long enough to make a meaningful impact on this series? That’s the question, without question…

March 9, 2010

Graham Thorpe

Enjoy 6-pint punditry from England’s nuggety middle order batsman as he shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

I’ve been a big fan of Kent’s James Tredwell for many years. I think he’s got class and he knows his own game inside-out, for sure. He’s certainly made a name for himself in the warm up match against Bangladesh A, no doubt about it. There’s no question this guy’s got all the attributes to take his game to the next level, without doubt. With England resting senior players it’s a good opportunity for the next generation to put their hands up and make a name for themselves – that’s for certain. And Tredders has done just that – fair play to him. Make no bones about it, what counts for any bowler is wickets – pure and simple. At the end of the day, you have to deliver the goods, it’s as simple as that. But can Tredwell make the step and deliver consistently at international level? At this level you have to have good character and mental toughness – is Tredwell tough enough? Only time will tell, but I would worry he may not be up to the job. It’s all too easy to get found out at test level and many players fail to make the adjustment – it’s dog-eat-dog, for sure. There’s no hiding place in international cricket – you mark my words. I’m telling you, it’s no place for the weak – that’s for certain. What I’m saying is that pressure plays a massive part – and the only way to combat pressure is with character, pure and simple. For me, there’s still a question mark hanging over Tredwell as I don’t believe he has the attributes to make it in tests. That’s what I think, anyway. In my opinion, he’s not ready, simple as that. He needs a couple more seasons in county cricket, for sure.

For my money, Steven Finn is the best young quick I’ve seen for years – and that’s a fact. The Middlesex paceman is the most exciting prospect on the circuit, make no mistake. I’m telling you, this guy could go all the way – he’s that good. Finny has serious talent and bags of character, that’s for certain – no doubt about it. With his height, pace and hostility, he could trouble the best in the game – and I’m not lying when I say that. Straight up, this young player is going places, without a shadow of a doubt. He’s got it all – pace, height, bounce – and is a terrific prospect, for definite. Honestly, it bears repeating – he’s seriously good, and seriously quick, for certain. But can he handle pressure? I’ve got my doubts – that’s for definite. From what I’ve seen of him I don’t think he can – simple as that. Pressure is such a big part of the modern game, make no mistake, and if you can’t take the pressure, you’re finished – it’s as simple as that. What I’m saying is, in such a pressure cooker environment, there’s no place to hide, make no mistake. Oh, hi Steven – didn’t see you there. No, what I was saying was that I’m a massive fan of yours – seriously. No, look, I didn’t say you were weak, honestly. I’ll buy you a beer, mate, what you having? No hard feelings, mate, seriously….nah, nah, nah, mate, I wasn’t questioning your temperament, honest. What I meant was that SOME players – not you – may find the mental side tougher in test cricket. No, no, I don’t think you’re a pussy at all, no way. Look, I’ll get you a drink. Yeah, you do, look, I’ll get you a Stella. No hard feelings, eh? I reckon you’ve got a great future in the game, mate, no doubt about it. For sure, your physical presence can intimidate international batsmen, no question of a doubt. I’m intimidated, that’s for sure. Are you leaving? Which way are you headed? Don’t mind if I tag along for a bit? Listen, as I said, right, no hard feelings. Put it there, mate….OK, I totally understand you don’t want to shake my hand.  Completely respect you for that, mate. Seriously. Fair play to you. To be honest with you, I wouldn’t shake my hand either. Look – cards on the table, I honestly think you’ll be a great addition to the England squad, straight up. You seriously got all the attributes to make it at test level, that’s for sure, mate. All I would say about your game, however [DOOF!!!]

Urrrgggghhh….

October 9, 2009

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

It’s great to see that England have recalled Liam Plunkett for the upcoming South Africa series. For my money there’s no better paceman in county cricket – and that’s for sure. Plunksy has worked hard on the circuit for years and fully deserves his chance, no doubt whatsoever. I’m telling you he’s got it in him, for sure. I’m always talking about the need for cricketers to go away and work on their game in county cricket. For me, there’s no better grounding for test cricket than the English county game, that’s for definite. And that’s where I believe Plunkett should stay for the time being. For sure, he’s got pace, height and bounce – but can he ask questions of the best batsmen? My answer is “no”, which is what I’ve said all along – and that’s no lie. I don’t think he has the pace or bounce to cause South Africa many problems, that’s my view on the matter. Do you think Jacques Kallis has prepared himself by setting the bowling machine to deliver 83mph balls on leg stump? Well, do you? No way! The South Africans must have been laughing for sure when this line-up was announced – I know I was. And that’s the God’s honest truth of the matter, no word of a lie. I don’t doubt that for a moment whatsoever, to be completely honest with you. That’s my honest answer, and I can’t say any fairer than that, to be completely blunt with you. If you ask my opinion, I will always give you a direct answer because that’s just the way I am. I like to play with a straight bat – and that’s me being honest, which is the best way to be, to be honest. I don’t beat around the bush when it comes to cricketing issues, and I always tell it to you straight. You all know your boy Thorpey doesn’t talk … uhh … doesn’t … mess about … like with my batting … I’m always careful to … uhh … uhhoohhh noooo …

BLEEEUURGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!! AHUHFFTTTOOOFF!! FTUFF!! OCCHHH-TUFF!!! BLEEUUURRRGGGHHH!!!!! A-BLOORRRRAAAGGGHHHH!!!!!!! FTUFFF!!! FTUFFF!!! EURGH!!! EURGHH!! FTUFF!!! ACHHH!!!

OK, so I was talking about the touring party which was what I was talking about, for sure – and that’s without a shadow of a doubt with what I’m telling you is that uhhh, I … uhhh … I … hang on a minute …

SSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! ACHEH!! AHEH!! FTUFFF!!!!

I think I’m gonna go home now, for sure. I need to get out of here, it’s too stuffy. I can’t focus … focus is important in the modern game, without question. Um … is this the way out? Where’s everyone gone? I think I need to go to bed … why am I so damp? Did someone spill a drunk? Drink? I’ve got to finishish this columnum or Euroschport will sack me … ahhhh noooo …

Does anyone know where I live? Hello? Hey, you, mate … can you help me?

PAAAARRRRPPPPPP!!!!

Excuse me! Excuse me! Oi! Hellooo?? Can you tell me where my house is? I need to get back to home now. Have you seen my house? It’s 4 bedrooms and it’s got a garden with a barbecue? I need to get to bed … ahhh, bush, this’ll be useful for sure … greenery …

AAABBBLLOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAARRRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! A-HECK!!! FTUFF!!! Shit …

Where is this again? Is this still the pub? Ahh, that table’s got an umbella, that’ll keep me warm … whoa, dizzy … I need to feel stable, there’s too much movement … whoah … never liked movement meself, always liked the ball comin’ on to the bat crisp … hmm … crisps … someone’s left some crisps … yum! Nourishment. Get on! Need some sleep, simpuw azzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz …

September 29, 2009

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

The way I see it, England have recently been playing focussed, aggressive cricket – and that’s why they fully deserve a place in the ICC semi-finals, in my opinion. I’m telling you, I reckon those lads have got what it takes to go all the way, make no mistake. They followed the 5 steps on my last column and now they’re reaping the rewards, for sure. That’s what I’m talking about! I’m telling you, if they keep playing this well, they could seriously challenge the best in the world, day in, day out – that’s what I reckon, anyway.

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that they’ve got to be careful – that’s just my opinion, you can make your own minds up on that one. What I’m saying is they have to watch they don’t go overboard with the confidence levels – that’s what I’m saying, anyway. My view is that England need to consolidate, without a shadow of a doubt – that’s just my view, for what it’s worth. And another thing – they need to maintain their focus and not let the standards slip, that’s for certain. They’ve got to keep up the pressure – that’s what this game’s all about, simple as that. Cricket is a mental game without doubt, and mentally they’ve got to stay on the game – and that’s no lie.

Look at the South Africans – that’s what I’m talking about. Look at how they go about the game. Confident, professional, disciplined – these attributes make them a tough side to beat, home or away, for sure. For sure, they deserve their number 1 status, make no bones about it. No doubt whatsoever. I’m telling you, this is where the game is going, for certain. My view is England could do worse than to model themselves on the South Africans, perhaps by picking more South African players – that’s just my opinion, anyway. At the end of the day, that’s just what I think, as far as I’m concerned anyway.

Listen, right, when it all comes down to it, are England up to the task? Can they beat the best teams in ODI cricket on a regular basis? My money’s on them getting to that level after a few more matches, but they’re certainly moving in the right direction, that’s for sure. The point I’m trying to make is that they need to gel a bit more and find a groove from which they can deliver consistent matchwinning performances – that’s the point I’m trying to get through to you, anyway.

What you’ve got to start getting into your heads is that this is still a relatively inexperienced team, OK? What I’m telling you to understand, right, is that a couple of victories hasn’t suddenly transformed them into Australia or India – am I making sense to you? Are you getting what I’m saying? If you want me to spell it out to you, then what I’m trying to get across is my point that England are still no good, without any doubt whatsoever, OK? They’ve still got some way to go, that’s what you’ve got to remember. You can’t turn round to me and say that they’re the finished article, by any means, because I would be forced to take issue with you on that, no question. You can’t just sit there and turn around and tell me they’re going to win the ICC trophy – you can’t seriously expect me to agree with that, no way. You need a serious reality check if you think that’s got any chance of happening whatsoever, that’s for certain.

Look, I don’t want any trouble, but that Irish guy Eioin…Euoin…Ieuan…Eoghan…Eoin Morgan is the star of England’s batting line-up, make no mistake. What I’m trying to say and what you need to realise is that I’m seriously TELLING you…England have got…England…England, right, I’m telling you… I’m TELLING you… are going… are… going… ah… ahh… uhhhhhh…

ABLLEEEUUUUURRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!! AAAGGGHHH!!! ABLOOOORRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! FTOOF!!! AHURR!! TOOFF!!! BLLLLLEEEEUUUUUGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! AHEH-AHEH… FTOOFFF!!! BLLLEEEEUUURRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! FTOOOFFFF!!!! Oh no… my shirt… aw God!!!… BLLLLEEEEEEUUUUUUURRRRRGGGHHHHH!!!! ACH! ACH! FTOOFFFF!!!! ACH!! ACH!! FTOO!!!! PAAAAARRRRPPPP!!!!! Shit…

September 14, 2009

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

If I’m being honest with you, England haven’t performed well enough in all areas in the recent ODI series against Australia – and that’s the truth, simple as that. In my opinion they let the game drift during the middle overs and that’s just not good enough, in my opinion. In a nutshell the batsmen just didn’t do the business. My view, for what it’s worth, is that the batsmen need to initiate force during those overs and make something happen – that’s the only way they’ll make anything happen in my opinion. What I’m saying is that they go into their shells when they should be expressing themselves. They need to leave their mark on the game for sure – that’s what I’m talking about. The selectors should call up Napier, Keysy and the Trottster – that’s what they should do. These guys have attitude, I’m telling you. Plus they give you options, there’s no doubting that whatsoever.

Bowling-wise, they made a howler in dropping Rashid, that’s for certain. The lad was bowling great, plus he made vital runs down the order – you can’t put a price on that. You can’t expect to win games like that. There’s no rhyme or reason to it and it can’t have done the poor lad’s confidence any good, that’s for definite. When the selectors eventually picked him again he was useless. I think he should be dropped for his own good – that’s my opinion – for what it’s worth, anyway. My view is that he needs a spell in county cricket getting a few more overs under the belt – make no mistake about it, that’s what he needs for sure. What I also reckon is that he needs to work on remodelling that action too, no question. The aussies have found him out and he needs to go back into his shell and re-learn his craft from the ground up – I’m telling you, it’s not easy. That’s my opinion, anyway.

The way I see it, to become a more successful one-day unit, England need to do 5 important things:

1) Create Pressure – they need to show more energy and intensity in their game to let the opposition know they mean business – that’s what I’m talking about.

2) Build Momentum – it is vital not to let the momentum slip, as the opposition will capitalize, no doubt about it.

3) Get In Their Spaces – they’ve got to work on shaking the opposition out of their comfort zones, that’s for sure.

4) Attitude – I’m always talking about the need for good attitude in cricket. Every top cricketer needs the right attitude and to show good aggression, I’m telling you.

5) Re-discover The Winning Habit – winning becomes a habit and England have got to get back into that habit soon, there’s no question about it.

In my opinion, the guys have got the rest of the series to re-group and re-focus and try and win the last 3 games – if they do that they can regain some self-respect and carry the winning feeling through to South Africa later this year, that’s for certain. My view is that if they follow the 5 rules I’ve highlighted above, there’s no reason why they can’t get back into the winning habit – and that’s a fact, I’m telling you. This England unit has the ability to turn things around, no doubt about it, although the middle of a series is not the place to be doing it, that’s for sure. Especially once the series is lost. Their best bet is to re-group at the end of the series, that’s my recommendation. Then they can put these ideas into practice in practice – away from the pressures of international cricket, that’s the point that I’m making. My money’s on the lads getting back into the winning habit in the ICC Champions Trophy later this year – I’m telling you they’ll come back stronger, no doubt about it.

September 2, 2009

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

Without a shadow of a doubt Luke Wright is more than ready to fill the void left by Freddie Flintoff, simple as that. In my opinion he’s aggressive with the bat, handy with the ball and a superb fielder – that’s what I think. I reckon he can prove his credentials in the upcoming ODI series and really stake a claim for the test team, for sure. He’s also a great presence in the dressing room, and that’s an important thing in the international game, for definite. He certainly gives the side plenty of options, I’m telling you. He’s a terrific prospect for sure, but he needs to spend a year or two in county cricket to work on his game before he’s ready for international cricket – and that’s the truth of the matter. That’s what I think, anyway.

Young Adil Rashid is a great prospect in my opinion. I reckon he just needs to work on slowing his action down a bit and allowing the ball some air – that way he can generate maximum turn off the pitch and cause the batsmen problems, without question. If he gets some overs under his belt for Yorkshire he’ll go a long way to becoming a good all-round prospect for the England side, and that’s a fact. All he needs to do is work on getting the ball through quicker, as slower spinners tend to give the batsmen more time to pick their variations, make no mistake. He also offers something with the bat, which is vital in today’s game as there’s no room for passengers when batting, that’s for certain. A good knock down the order can alleviate pressure when the top order fails to fire, no question of a doubt whatsoever, for certain.

Keep an eye out for Chris Woakes – I’m telling you, he’s going to be England’s next talisman with the ball, for sure. That’s not just my opinion, either. That’s a fact, in my opinion, without doubt. This guy bowls a great line and, most important of all, he gets wickets. He took a hatful against the West Indies earlier this summer and he looks an awesome prospect, that’s for definite. What I would say, though, is that he needs to concentrate on keeping it tight and not striving to get a wicket every ball. That’s a mistake that a lot of young bowlers make, in my view. Bowling in test cricket is a game of patience – you’ve got to wear the batsman down with consistency, no doubt about it.

I’ve mentioned Joe Denly in this column before and I seriously think he’s the real deal. He’s a batsman who sees the ball well and has excellent technique and hand-eye co-ordination, in my opinion. There’s no questioning his technical ability and desire, but what I would say is that he needs to work in the nets on his technique a bit more. In my opinion there’s no substitute for hard work and he needs to do plenty of it to iron out his technical flaws before he’s ready for test cricket. My view is that he maybe needs to play a string of one-dayers to get the feel for international cricket and my money’s on him being ready for tests in a couple of years or so.

My view is that England have a great pool of players from which to choose in the upcoming ODI series against the aussies, no question. I’m really excited by our chances and there are plenty of good all-round cricketers available who offer something with both bat and ball, and that’s the truth. In my opinion, good all-rounders can influence the game in more than one way, which is crucial. Any player who can make a quickfire 30 down the order and chip in with a couple of vital wickets is worth their weight in gold, without a shadow of a doubt whatsoever.

With Freddie injured, England will struggle to find players capable of replacing him, no question. Sure, they have a few bits-and-pieces county cricketers around, but they’ll never make a meaningful impact in any international game – that’s what I reckon anyway. I’m worried that England will end up replacing Fred with someone like Mascarenhas, whose only contribution will be a quickfire 30 down the order and a couple of wickets, which isn’t enough I’m afraid. I just hope England manage to compete in this series, as the aussies have a great unit who will feed off their weaknesses, that’s for sure. I don’t think they stand a chance if I’m honest with you.

August 28, 2009

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

England showed great attitude in their superb Ashes victory, no doubt about it. They played as a unit and everyone came to the party. I can’t fault this side at the moment as it’s gelling so well, no question whatsoever.

The lads have no time to bask in the glory, as they face an arduous one day and Twenty20 series against the aussies before embarking on a tour of the number one country in test cricket – South Africa. South Africa is one of the toughest tours in test cricket, absolutely, without question. The team will need to maintain its’ focus and stick to the basics if they are to have any success on the hard pitches over there in my opinion. I believe they will need to adjust the bowling line-up to compete on South African surfaces, for sure. Onions and Anderson would have a tough time over there, as they only achieve success when the ball is swinging in overcast conditions. I would drop both of them and bring in Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett. Finnsy and Tremmy are both tall bowlers with good pace that unsettles the best batsmen – and in South Africa you need plenty of it, for real. For my money, there’s no substitute for pace in the modern game and I’d pick those two lads for sure. With Harmy and Broady in the mix that’s got to add up to a mean proposition for any batsman, that’s for sure.

Without question, the batters need shaking up a bit, without doubt. Straussy’s safe in my book, because he’s captain and he has a big impact on the game. The modern game is about players who can make an impact and change the course of a game. Good test matches are often won or lost in a session and that’s down to a player putting their hand up and getting in amongst the opposition, whether it’s with vital runs, a five-for or some lightning-quick fielding. My money’s on Straussy to have a good series over there, I’d put money on it for sure. Cooky’s had a bad run recently and needs to work on his technique. South Africa’s bowlers will exploit his technical weaknesses, no question about it. I’d bring in Joe Denly, as he’s got a good temperament and batted well against Ireland recently. Plus the left-hand-right-hand opening combo will frustrate the opening bowlers as they will have to keep re-adjusting their lines. Belly’s in last chance saloon these days and I’d drop him when Pietersen’s fit again. The best way to fight South African bowling is with South African batting, so with Strauss, Trott and Pietersen in the top order England will have this in bucketloads, no question about it. Collingwood’s days at the top are over, simple as that. Sure, he’s got character and aggression, but test cricket is about technique and ability – and his have been exposed by the aussie bowlers, no question of a doubt about it, for sure. In my opinion Keysy would make a good substitute for him – he’s got fire in his belly and he’s been one of the leading batters on the circuit – that’s what I’m talking about. Colly’s been a great servant to the game, no doubt about it, but it’s time to move on and look forward. Keysy deserves his chance, no question.

With Freddie retired the rest of the lads are going to need to work harder and up their games if they are to succeed going forward. I think they’ve got the fight to compete, that’s for certain. I back them to do well in South Africa, as long as they stick to the basics and work hard.

Thorpe’s England XI for South Africa: Strauss, Denly, Pietersen, Trott, Key, Prior, Broad, Swann, Tremlett, Harmison, Finn.

August 13, 2009

Graham Thorpe

England’s nuggety middle order batsman shares his unbridled expertise in cricketing clichés

I believe England need to pick Rob Key for the Oval test, simple as that. Keysy’s form has been impeccable at county level and he certainly has bags of character as he showed in Australia in 2002. England’s middle order needs battlers who can stand up to the aussie bowlers and get in their spaces. Aggression is the key to England winning the ashes back and Keysy showed that in spades when he alienated most of the backroom staff during the World 20Twenty earlier this summer. For me, Keysy has to be in that line-up, no doubt about it.

A lot has been said recently about the form of Ravi Bopara and Ian Bell. For my money these two young players are class professionals and I know they can bounce back from this and come back more complete and mentally tougher. For the moment, though, I would drop the pair of them and bring in Ramprakash and Trott. Ramps has done the business on the county circuit for years and thoroughly deserves his chance. He has unfinished business at test level and I’m sure he’d love another crack at those dirty aussies.

Jonathan Trott is a quality young player who thoroughly deserves a call-up. I thought this before he was drafted into the squad for the last test and I’ve always been convinced that he’d strengthen the middle order. He’s a top lad, too, and a quality cricketer, no question.

England’s bowlers looked tired at Edgbaston and at Headingley they barely turned up. I think Harmy’s best days are behind him now and the selectors need to seriously think about bolstering the attack for The Oval. I’d bring in Ryan Sidebottom, for sure. England sorely missed his accuracy in the last test match and need someone to apply pressure at one end. Sidey has produced the goods on the county circuit for years and it wasn’t so long ago that he was England’s talisman. I’m sure he’d love to have a go at the aussies without a question of a doubt.

I for one am excited about the final test at The Oval. England have a real chance to regain the ashes in style in front of a full house. It’s the sort of thing every young player dreams of as a kid. The way I see it, England need to hold their nerve and go out there and play positive cricket, that’s for sure. If England can get to bat first and put runs on the board then they have a great chance of clinching this series. Scoreboard pressure has always been the deciding factor in test matches played at The Oval. Do England have the ability to make every run count? I certainly think they have the character to win this match, no question.