Recent articles by Hendo
Exclusive: Pakistani doctors' diagnosis - Arthur has to go, and we'll pay for sacking
Cash and harry: Dr Ansari's consortium want Arthur replaced by a more synergetic coaching team. A group of leading Pakistani physicians have offered to pay off the final year of Mickey Arthur's contract as they urge the country's board to seek a new start after the team's disastrous Asia Cup campaign. They believe the coach has failed to fully commit to the cause in a sport which unites the disparate 220 million population like very little else. Furthermore they accuse the South African of sidelining Sarfraz Ahmed over selection and key decisions, arguing that he leaves the captain to burden the disappointment of a nation's failure.
Opening questions: Cook, his brief, and the swipe over cover
Nigel Henderson argues that England might benefit from a change of approach from at least one batsman at the top of their order. Stable top: Cook's stickability would allow another opener to go hell for leather. A number of Guerilla Cricket listeners, not to mention one or two contributors, have in the last few months questioned the continued selection of Alastair Cook as an England opener. They argue that 12,179 Test runs – the sixth highest in history – 32 hundreds, 56 fifties and an average of a tad more than 45 do not entitle him to an ongoing presence at international level. They point to an unsuccessful Ashes, take away the odd double century (one of a handful in his five-day career), claim his eyes are going – at the advanced age of 33 – and suggest that he is keeping emerging talent from getting an opportunity. All this while seemingly ignoring that England are finding it hard enough to find a partner for him at the top of the order in the first place.
Adil Rashid could still become top Test spinner if he plays his cards right
Nigel Henderson talks to the Indian woman who is applying an ancient technique to predicting the results of cricket matches. Deal with The Devil? No, Rashid is looking more to the King of Swords. In his mystical best-selling work The Alchemist, written in a frenzy of inspiration over a fortnight in 1987, the author Paulo Coelho has one character tell Santiago, his hero: "When you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true.".
The Adil conundrum: never in the field of cricket conflict has one ball meant so much to so many
The condemnation of England's recalled leg spinner has the whiff of hypocrisy, argues Nigel Henderson. His darkest hour: I want two spinners – and make one of them Rashid. The weeks between a one-day series and a Test series are a long time in cricket, it would appear. No sooner had the original narrative – the one simmering since 2014 about whether Virat Kohli could find a way to get runs in England's green and pleasant land and prove once and for all that he is a class act in all conditions – been overtaken by one in which an almost unprecedented hot and dry spell would magically turn all England pitches into a spinner's paradise, than Ed Smith provided us with yet another one.
Depression and anxiety 'being seen in cricketers as young as ten'
Nigel Henderson talks to a coach whose interest in mental health issues has uncovered a worrying trend. Depression and anxiety are manifesting among cricketers as young as ten, according to a leading coach and advocate for good mental health. Lindsay Moody, who worked with England captain Joe Root at the age of 12 and had a short career in Sussex's 2nd XI, worries that parental expectation is making the problem far worse than in previous generations, with players under almost unbearable pressure to perform.
Getting it Wrong: opprobrium aimed at ball-tamperers has a darker side
In the light of mental health difficulties experienced by some cricketers, Nigel Henderson wonders if those caught up in the events at Newlands need a little understanding and what might happen to them if they don't get it. It may seem odd amid the fallout over the ball-tampering affair that Steve Waugh should be the one to counsel us against losing sight of "the social impact and mental health of all players" subject to widespread condemnation in the incident.
Trevor Bayliss's trump card makes England a poor excuse of a team
If the England coach's mantra was intended to deceive, he was unable to fool Nigel Henderson, who finds him to blame for much, if not all, of the team's poor Ashes showing. Not so clever, Trevor: the England coach has something of the US president about him. Trevor Bayliss is an unlikely character to compare to Donald Trump but by the middle of the Ashes, when the urn had been all but surrendered, it was beginning to look as if he was operating the metaphorical England Twitter feed all on his own from a secluded corner of the dressing-room. "We've played some good cricket, just not for long enough," had been his plea after losing in Brisbane and so good had it sounded to him – and so often was it then recycled in the mainstream media – that he decided to stick with it, rolling it out after the Adelaide defeat as well.
Brilliant Bhuvneshwar Kumar beginning to show his all-round qualities
India's premier swing bowler's class with the bat is starting to make respected observers sit up and take notice, says Nigel Henderson. Bhuve Kumar: preparing to make South Africa pay attention – with bat and ball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar stepped on to the back foot and with a pendulum swing of the bat sent the ball scudding through the gap in the covers and to the boundary. Keshav Maharaj, the South Africa left-arm spinner, could only watch in admiration – an admiration shared by commentator Michael Holding who, in recognising that placement had played a part in the successful completion of the stroke, along with an understanding that he did not need to hit the ball too hard, marked it out as something not customarily expected from a No 9. "That's the shot of a top-order batsman," purred Holding.
Duckett the issue: bingeing Poms the victims of (social) media's fake morality
Nigel Henderson suggests that cricketers in a losing team are the first to come under attack in a post-truth world. The husband of a good friend of mine once, when a student, split up with a girlfriend without extending her the courtesy of telling her. You might rail at his lack of consideration but you shouldn't feel too sorry for her as she found a mightily effective way of getting her resulting displeasure across. Not only did her revenge prove to be a dish served cold but it was the gift that kept on giving: whenever she saw him out and about in the student union bar she would walk up to him, pick up his pint and empty it over his head. His friends found it so hilarious that after a while they stopped warning him if they spotted her creeping up on him and just enjoyed the spectacle that ensued.
Being There: Aaaaagh-delaide and the nightmare before Christmas (part one)
As England were screwing up on a grand scale on the final day of Adelaide 2006-07, Nigel Henderson found himself drawn into an awkward and unwanted conversation with an Australian fan. As I stood on the Southern Concourse at the Adelaide Oval, shaking with almost visible rage as Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey picked off an England that had completely lost the plot on the final day of the second Test, an Australian turned to me and said: "How good is this?".
The real problem with Joe Root: he's mesmerized by his own talent
Nigel Henderson argues that the England captain's poor conversion rate of fifties to hundreds has an unexpected cause. When Joe Root stumbled towards the offside in trying to play Josh Hazlewood round his pad and through mid-wicket in the second innings of England's defeat in Brisbane – the resulting leg-before was obvious to most watching if not, immediately, the batsman himself – a rare moment of possible insight was offered by Kevin Pietersen. He suggested that Root's slight over-balancing act was a small technical deficiency arising from his response to the short-pitched bowling threat the Australian attack carried, positing that the England captain was primed – perhaps to too great a degree – to take avoiding action.
The great outpouring of breath: the Ashes, anticipation and a man called Harmy
The walk to the ground, the murmur at the toss, the delivery of the first ball, it's all about the expectation in an Ashes series. But in 2006-07, it was even more dramatic than usual, as Nigel Henderson, who was there, recalls. The opening of a Test series is always special but I knew this one was going to be more special than most as soon as I rose from my hostel bed at 6.30am and stepped outside to feed my coffee habit from the machine on the communal veranda. There, on the steps that separated our original, mainly wooden structure from the more modern building, I saw a man in a Barmy Army T-shirt being interviewed by an Australian television crew. (It could be a dangerous thing wearing a Barmy Army T-shirt: you could never be sure when a media representative would leap out of some bushes and demand you be a spokesman for the nation).
Disasters in the drop zone: men who lost England the Ashes (maybe)
Catches have always won matches – and, indeed, spilled ones have regularly lost them. And they don't come any bigger or important than in an Ashes series. Nigel Henderson looks back on three of the most crucial that went to ground for England against Australia. Ashley Giles, Adelaide, 2006 In recent generations, England appeared to have cornered the market in left-arm spinners who can't field: indeed with the selection of the likes of Phil Tufnell and Monty Panesar it's seemed like a prerequisite. Ashley Giles though bucked the trend, his bucket hands usually reliable at gully. And, positioned on the square-leg boundary in Australia's first innings in a bid to trap the master puller Ricky Ponting, there was no obvious reason to be fearful. Steve Harmison set up the plan, roughing up the Australian captain with a 93mph bouncer that put him on the floor, so when the less pacy Matthew Hoggard dropped short from the opposite end, the Tasmanian swivelled with lazy grace, lifting the ball invitingly towards Giles in the outfield. England, who had scored 551 for six before declaring, stood a split second away from removing their opponents' most dangerous batsmen and having Australia tottering on 78 for four. A hush came across the ground, broken only, for those with radio earpieces, by Tony Greig shouting, almost triumphantly: "That's out." But Giles, slow to absorb the enormity of the moment, was sluggish in getting off the ground and the chance, just above his head, spilled from his hands. England fans groaned, Australians cheered – and a small but audible chant went up for Panesar, who replaced Giles in the next Test.
Middle management: growing scrutiny adds to umpires' insecurities
It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it. Umpiring, that is. And it doesn't come much dirtier than the Ashes. But hey, get on the ICC'S Elite Panel and you could be laughing all the way to the bank to deposit upwards of $100k a year, along with much international travel. Nigel Henderson considers how officials' differing temperaments help or hinder them. Billy Bowden just wanted everyone to love him.
So this is bromance: how Warner gave game away about Aussie-Pommie rivalry
When he called for all-out war against England in the Ashes build-up, the Australia vice-captain was revealing something about their attitude to Poms that nobody could have anticipated, argues Nigel Henderson. So now we know the truth. "Arsewipe" was a term of endearment. "Mental disintegration" was a minor wind-up meant to be no more psychologically damaging than a game of marbles.
Roy and Bairstow wipe floor with lacklustre West Indies
Fifth ODI: West Indies 288-6 in 50 overs England 294-1 (Bairstow 141*, Root 46*) in 38 overs. Jason Roy continued to make the most of his unexpected second chance as a one-day international opening batsman as England romped to a fourth victory in the series against West Indies at the Rose Bow and ended a difficult week – and long season – on a high. The Surrey batsman, who seemed likely to face a long spell in the wilderness as understudy to Alex Hales and Jonny Bairstow, having been displaced by the latter towards the end of the Champions Trophy, added another fifty to the one he scored on Wednesday at the Oval and was desperately unlucky not to turn that into a fourth 50-over hundred.
Brilliant Lewis left to feel the pain as spectacular knock proves in vain
4th ODI: West Indies 356-5 England 258-5 (Moeen 48*, Buttler 43*) England win by six runs on DLS method. Evin Lewis staked his claim as Universe Boss-elect with a storming innings that dug West Indies out of a hole but it was not enough to claim victory for the tourists at the Oval, with England grateful for the efforts of the recalled Jason Roy and the inspired Moeen Ali who clinched the series with a little help from the Duckworth-Lewis system.
Jofra who? Guerilla Cricket's Youth Wing on their Ashes XIs. Bloody millenials
Give me your Ashes teams, said @guerillahendo. Starting XIs for Brisbane, squad players and reasons. 150 words max. Back they came, at first a trickle, then a flow, then a veritable flood. Some were short, pithy, to the point; others were longer, more rounded; a few had their own books and were available on Amazon. These are the thoughts of the Guerilla Cricket Youth Wing. And yes, with curious votes for YJB to open, three wicketkeepers, and a quite frankly unhealthy passion for Gary Ballance, you may think they were born yesterday.
Urning a place on the plane: the Guerilla Cricket Ashes selections (part one)
Give me your Ashes teams, said @guerillahendo. Starting XIs for Brisbane, squad players and reasons. 150 words max. Back they came, at first a trickle, then a flow, then a veritable flood. Some were short, pithy, to the point; others were longer, more rounded; a few had their own books and were available on Amazon. There was strange manlove for Liam Plunkett, bizarre left-field votes for Cookie's Essex mates Dan Lawrence and James Foster. And then there was Cockers; Cockers is as Cockers does – and he does freeform. Read down to see who you agree with and who you believe, passionately, to be a raving lunatic.
Deja vu for West Indies as Jonny B Good
First ODI: Old Trafford: West Indies 204-9 from 42 overs; England 210-4 from 30.5 overs (Bairstow 100*, Stokes 23*). As in the rather pointless one-day international series in the West Indies in March, this was a cakewalk for England. After a two-hour delay for 'overnight' rain – don't even mention that this was a day/night game not due to start until the aftenoon in any case – umpires Tim Robinson and Simon Fry deigned to allow us some cricket.
Anderson makes history but incurs umpire's wrath as deciding Test stands on a knife-edge
Third Test, evening session, day two: West Indies 123 & 93-3 (S Hope 35* Chase 3*) England 194. With the clock beneath Father Time ticking round to 5.17pm, Jimmy Anderson lined up at the top of his run at Lord's, the imposing members' Pavilion rising up behind him, to deliver the final ball of his second over in the West Indies second innings. Kraigg Brathwaite, the West Indies opener, looked up to see him in that familar, polished roll to the wicket. A split second later, Brathwaite was staring back at broken stumps, Anderson was surrounded by congratulatory team-mates and history had been made: the Burnley Express had steamed his way through 500 Test victims, the first Englishman to do so.
All eyes on Stokes as wickets tumble on compelling opening day
Third Test, close of play report (day one): West Indies 123 all out England 46-4 (Stokes 13*, Malan 13*). Not for the first time – and it almost certainly won't be the last – Ben Stokes managed to steal the thunder of one of his team-mates on a remarkable first day of the decisive third Test at Lord's.on which 14 wickets fell. Jimmy Anderson had moved to the brink of 500 Test wickets by removing Kraigg Brathwaite and Kyle Hope in a first session disrupted by rain but a devastating spell from Stokes, who wasn't even brought into the attack until mid-afternoon, left Anderson still waiting for the one scalp which would take him to a milestone achieved by only two pace bowlers before him.
A triumph of Hope over expectation: West Indies pair drive tourists to historic victory
Close of play report: England 258 & 490-8dec lost to West Indies 427 & 322-5 by five wickets. It is rare that a Test match reaches tea on the final day with all four results possible. That it should do at Headingley with the unlikeliest of those results an England win is testament to the resilience of this West Indies team and in particular the grit and skill of opener Kraigg Brathwaite and the less experienced but no less talented Shai Hope.
Inimitable Moeen Ali grabs initiative to give England sight of victory
Close of play report: England 258 & 490-8dec West Indies 427 & 5-0 (Powell 1*, Brathwaite 4*). Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes led a charge after tea against lifeless West Indies bowling to almost certainly put the second Test out of reach of the tourists. Having established a lead of 321, Joe Root was able to put England's opponents in for a tricky six overs before the close. The all-rounders had come in when England had hit a trough as they tried to navigate to safety mid-afternoon and having stabilised before tea, began to open up with a series of elegant strokes. Moeen drove as elegantly and imperiously as ever while Woakes provided the ballast, with a series of late cuts breaking the spirit of the spinners.
Ben Stokes rides his luck to complete compelling century
Close of play report, Headingley day one: England 258 West Indies 19-1 (Brathwaite 13*, Bishoo 1*). Ben Stokes's desire to attack is beginning to look more like a carefully considered approach than a compulsion. The England all-rounder could have perished on a number of occasions on the first afternoon on day one at Headingley but, when his wicket was not being endangered, his commitment to a series of stinging strokes threatened to rip the filling out of a much improved West Indies performance.
Rain rescues West Indies from trial under lights after Alastair Cook's fourth double hundred
First Test (day 2, close of play report) England 514-8 dec; West Indies 44-1 (Powell 18*, K.Hope 25*). West Indies were spared too forensic an examination under lights when rain came half an hour into the final session at Edgbaston and washed out play for the day. They had already lost opener Kraigg Brathwaite in a testing period before the suppertime interval after Alastair Cook's fourth Test double century had enabled England to declare perhaps earlier than expected on an imposing 514 for eight.
Joe Root and Alastair Cook hit centuries as England make West Indies toil
First Test, first day:Close of play report: England 348-3 (Cook 153* Malan 28*) v West Indies. Captains present and past scored untroubled centuries as England dominated West Indies on the first day of the inaugural day/night Test in this country at Edgbaston. Joe Root, the incumbent, went to his hundred shortly before the end of the second session, and his predecessor Alastair Cook joined him as the floodlights took effect lending, in combination with a setting sun, an almost ethereal ambience to a special occasion. Root finally went for 136 after the pair had added 248 for the third wicket but by the close, Cook was still there, undefeated on 153.
Marvellous Moeen's all-round skills prove too much for South Africa
End of game report: England 362 & 243 bt South Africa 226 & 202 by 177 runs. It is getting to be a habit. Moeen Ali wrapped up the third Test match with a hat-trick – the first in 100 Tests at the Oval – and ended South Africa's resistance at Old Trafford with wickets in successive balls. It gave him figures of five for 69, no more than he deserved as he bowled the decisive spell shortly before tea to match his exploits with the bat on the third evening, and a total of 25 wickets in the series – by far the best haul on either side.
Ali turns up heat to take game away from South Africa
Close of play report (Day 3): England 362 & 224-8 (Ali 67*, Broad 0*) South Africa 226. Moeen Ali's growing significance in the England set-up was emphasised in the final session at Old Trafford as he quashed any hopes South Africa had of forcing an unlikely victory with a superb counter-attacking innings. Moeen smashed an 11th Test fifty after his fellow big guns had laboured to press home the advantage England had taken on first innings after leaving their opponents with a 136-run deficit.
Anderson marks opening of his own end in inspirational style
Close of play report (fourth Test, second day). England 362 South Africa 220-9 (Morkel 18*). James Anderson backed up his words with actions as he celebrated the opening of his own end at Old Trafford in dramatic fashion to put England in a commanding position in the second Test. Anderson, insistent that redemption Down Under remains a target after the 2013-14 Ashes drubbing, produced a wonderful spell after tea, clean bowling Temba Bavuma and Faf du Plessis in the space of three balls, then finding Theunis de Bruyn's outside edge to have him caught at second slip.
Moeen's hat-trick rounds off victory despite Elgar's resistance
Final report: (Third Test day 5). England 353 & 313-8 dec bt South Africa 175 & 252 by 239 runs. Moeen Ali finished off the historic 100th Test match at the Oval in appropriately memorable style with a hat-trick – the first in a Test match at the famous ground – to give England an emphatic victory and put them 2-1 ahead in the series with one to play. Ali finally ended the resistance of the admirable Dean Elgar, who almost single-handedly defied the home side, when he was induced to drive at one that turned from the footholes, and gave a simple catch to Ben Stokes at slip.
Du Plessis facing humiliation as England dominate day
Close of play report (third Test, day 4). England 353 & 313-8 dec South Africa 175 & 117-4 (Elgar 72*, Bavuma 16*). If he wasn't aware already, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis was this evening made horribly cognizant of the dramatic changes in fortune cricket can deal its protagonists as South Africa's top order succumbed again to England's pace attack in the final session at the Oval.
Bloodied South Africa feel the full force of Stokes and Roland-Jones
Close of play score (third Test, day 2, evening session). England 353 all out South Africa 126-8 (Bavuma 34*, Morkel 2*). Ben Stokes went to a fifth Test century in a blizzard of sixes and Toby Roland-Jones enjoyed a dream-like introduction to five-day cricket as England carved out a commanding position on an exhilarating second day of the third Test at the Oval. Stokes, who hit 112 from 153 balls in an innings of impressive maturity, cleared the boundary three times in successive balls as he went in the blink of an eye from 91 to 109, before Roland-Jones, making up for lost time that meant his debut was delayed until the age of 29, found a glorious rhythm.
Cook in the swing as South Africa's bowlers find pitch to their liking
Close of play score (third Test); Eng 171-4 v South Africa (Cook 82*, Stokes 21*). There was rain, cloud, a greenish pitch, a moving ball and regular interruptions. In other words, the perfect conditions for Alastair Cook. The former England captain provided the kind of stern resistance that seems to be going out of fashion as South Africa's bowlers made the ball talk in any number of languages on the first day of the third Test at the Oval.
Sniper Shrubsole pulls trigger to halt India's charge to house of victory
There are many paths to the Home of Victory, but India were unfortunate to choose the one guarded by Anya Shrubsole. Like a sniper in the bushes who finds some extra bullets after fearing she has run out of ammunition, the England medium pace bowler, who was named (wo)man of the match, picked off five of her opponents in a stunning 3.2-over spell. An Indian victory, which looked a nailed-on certainty an hour earlier, was snatched from their grasp. Shrubsole, whose figures at one point were 6.2-0-34-1, finished with 9.4-0-46-6.
Sorry, but like England, we couldn't be bothered
Second Test Day 4 England 133 all out: South Africa win by 340 runs. Because England couldn't be bothered to turn up today, Guerilla Cricket has decided we can't be bothered to write a report on a shambolic performance. If and when England decide to put their heart and soul back into their Test cricket, we will put our heart and soul back into our writing. We may write a review of this Test match in the coming days...if we can be arsed.
Philander ensures honours are even after see-saw day
Second Test: close of play score: (day one): South Africa 309-6. Stuart Broad dragged England back into a game that was getting away from them with the crucial wickets of Quinton De Kock and Hashim Amla shortly after tea on the first day of the second Test. With Ben Stokes chipping in with the scalps of Faf du Plessis and Temba Bavuma the hosts appeared to have taken control by midway through an elongated final session. But the game swung again in the last hour or so as Chris Morris and Vernon Philander, with his second fifty of the series, prevented England making further inroads with an unbroken stand of 74 that could yet have a crucial affect on the final outcome.
England in driving seat after Philander injury adds to tourists' bowling woes
Close of play report (Day 3) England 458 & 119-1; South Africa 351. England had moved into a commanding position by the end of the third day at Lord's as South African's bowling woes deepened after a nasty injury to strike bowler Vernon Philander. The tourists' options for the next Test at Trent Bridge had already been affected by the suspension of Kagiso Rabada, who was sanctioned for swearing at Ben Stokes after he dismissed him in the first innings (combined with a previous offence), but they were left a bowler short as England batted for a second time.
Middle order steadies tourists after Moeen wins battle of the bewhiskered
Close of play report (day two) South Africa 214-5; England 458 all out. Moeen Ali's capacity for getting crucial wickets helped give England the advantage on the second day of the first Test at Lord's. The off spinner has often been derided for his unimpressive average but his knack for picking up big players at important moments mitigates in his favour as far as his admirers are concerned.
Brilliant Root in dreamland on captaincy debut
Close of play report: England 357-5. Many of the 80 men who have captained England in Test cricket have performed as if restrained in a straitjacket. Not Joe Root. The man elected to succeed Alastair Cook when the Essex opener decided he'd had enough five months ago found the position a perfect fit and records tumbled as England made a superb start to the four-match series. Root batted most of the day for an excellent undefeated 184, becoming the fourth highest scorer in history on Test captaincy debut and the highest scorer among new England skippers. He hit 21 fours, complemented by a beautifully driven six down the ground towards the pavilion, and if he rode his luck at times - he was dropped twice and stumped off a no-ball - his brazenness and impish grin meant few could resent him.