Features

Hendo

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.

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Hendo

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.

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The MCG: a modern tradition, but England can poop the party set

Jeremy Henderson reveals that the Boxing Day Test is not such an ingrained custom and gives the beleaguered tourists hope with the sorry tale of Ross Duncan. Grounds for optimism: England don't always lose at the G. Tradition is a concept which seems to vary, depending upon the age of the culture in which it is discussed. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as "The transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation". And so it is in those civilisations with a long history spanning many generations. Less so, however, in a very young "civilisation".

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Turn up the volume: stump mics could stamp out sledging when it goes too far

Martin White wonders whether we've reached an all-time low when it comes to in-play verbals. There are very few situations that cannot be improved by wit. Cricket is no exception, and humorous comment has been a part of cricket since before any of us can remember. In a workplace environment, or amongst friends, it might these days be referred to as "banter". In cricket, it has taken on the term "sledging". The origins of that are a little vague, including a reference to a sledgehammer or a well known American singer, but however it came about, it has been used in cricket – especially at Test level – since the late Sixties.

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Hendo

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.

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Heard but not seen: why this series is the Invisible Ashes

David Brook, Guerilla Cricket's latest recruit and the man who took Test cricket to Channel 4, argues that BT Sport's acquisition of the away Ashes TV rights are having knock-on effects for the promotion of the game. With the second Test poised tantalisingly on the final day in Adelaide – England needing 178 with six wickets in hand – and expelled from a speeding awareness course for sneaking a peak at the Ashes score on my poorly concealed mobile phone – I popped into a nearby Corals to find out the odds on England and perhaps place a cheeky bet. I pulled up the cricket screen and scrolled down the options.

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The ground that made Perth proud: a fond obituary for the WACA

In the first of two articles about the WACA as it prepares to stage its final Test, Jeremy Henderson, a Perth resident since arriving there as a 19-year-old in 1970, looks back on the good and bad about the ground. The Waca: never cut out to be a real stadium – and that was its charm. I've been lucky, really lucky. I have seen some fantastic cricket at the WACA. I saw Greg Chappell, in his first Test, and Perth's first Test, score a scintillating century against an England attack that included one of my boyhood idols, John Snow.

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Bring on the Chocolate Doughnut - England wave farewell to 47 years of Perth pain

Jeremy Henderson, in the second of two articles about the WACA as it stages its final Test, crunches the numbers to show that it has rarely been a happy hunting ground for the Ashes tourists. The new Perth Stadium: needs a few more ingredients. Almost exactly 47 years ago, Geoffrey Boycott, partnered by Brian Luckhurst, faced the first ball of the first Test match ever played in Perth. He went on to make 70 in an opening partnership of 171. Luckhurst made 131, and England managed a total of 397. While the match ended in a fairly tame draw, it was just about the zenith of England's performances at the WACA. With one minor aberration in 1978, when England beat the players that Kerry Packer didn't want, it has been pretty much all downhill since then.

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Paul Howarth

Being at Home: Aaaaagh-delaide and the nightmare before Christmas (part two)

Sofa-dwelling Paul Howarth was forced to watch the debacle unfolding at Adelaide 2006-07 from under his duvet 10,000 miles from the action. Not that that made it any easier to bear. When was the last time you loosed off a genuine primal scream at the iniquities of the world? Perhaps a bruising day at work was followed by a nose-to-armpit commute home before, wearily, you inserted your front door key into the lock, turned and ... it snapped off. Maybe you fetched up at Dover just as the last ferry was pulling out ... and then a seagull shat on your windscreen.

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Hendo

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?".

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Hendo

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.

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Gary Naylor

'The blood drained from my face': Waugh, Warne and the changing of the guard

England had won most of the Ashes series in Gary Naylor's young life and he had no reason to think it wouldn't always be that way. Oh but it would, it would, as he recalls here. England, with a little help from the Packer rebels' absence, had won the Ashes five times out of six, with the 1975 defeat overshadowed in my 12-year-old mind by the new fangled World Cup and the 1982-83 loss in Australia not covered by television and, therefore, it possibly didn't actually happen. I was 26 and I hadn't really seen a half decent Australian side.

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Nakul Pande

Before the Sprinkler: six hours of torture at the hands of Brad the Impaler

There must be somewhere more comfortable to watch an Ashes than a freezing student shithole above an Indian restaurant in Euston. But that fate befell Nakul Pande who shivers at the memory, one made worse by the interminable company of a grizzled Australian wicketkeeper – and a reminder that 2010-11 wasn't all plain sailing. It is often said that the English have no national myths to speak of – no Aeneid, no Mahabharata, no Washington and the cherry tree. Even King Arthur is a Norman import. The English, they say, have no myths.

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Hendo

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.

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Gary Naylor

Help me make it through the night: the twilight world of an Ashes Guerilla

The classic way to get off to sleep is to count sheep – so that's imagining white objects moving in repeating patterns on grass with a little gate in the distance, to the accompaniment of numbers ticking over. Which might explain why so many doze at the cricket too – well, that and the lunchtime gin and tonics.

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The Guerillas

Rude awakenings: the indispensable guide to surviving an away Ashes

Academic Josh Robinson, an old hand at sleep deprivation, guides you through the best options to survive the wee hours with Guerilla Cricket and recommends the best commentators for successful slumber. This method involves falling asleep to the coverage, and getting up early to listen to part of the final session. For the games in the eastern third of Australia, this means going to sleep around 1am, and waking around 6am. It's different for Adelaide (the day/night game) and Perth (because of the time difference). Play continues until about 11.30am and 10am respectively, meaning you can get up early to listen to a big chunk – along with getting a virtuously early night.

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Hendo

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.

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Hendo

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.

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Gary Naylor

Culture crash: Ashes sayings from the great, good ... and Piers Morgan

It's just a step to the left ... and a blast through extra cover! From Rocky Horror Show writer to Neil Finn, by way of Walt Whitman and the Bard, the Ashes has inspired some great soundbites. Here are a selection of the finest courtesy of Gary Naylor. "Whose batting will make the difference in the series? Whose captaincy will give their side an advantage? Whose media skills will work best? Whose relationship with the coach will prove most effective? Root's Root's Root's Root's".

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Jason Hiscox

Hidden agenda: cricket's Paradise Papers reveal Aussie plans to bring down Poms

In the modern era, backroom staff spend an age analysing their opponents' strengths and weaknesses using everything from video footage to algorithms. But all this hi-tech subterfuge is of no use if your computer encryption is weak. Guerilla activist and IT specialist Jason Hiscox drove through Cricket Australia's gatekeepers in minutes to access their Ashes file on England – and it turned out to be disappointingly basic.

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The Guerillas

'This is going to be violent': the Guerilla crew give their Ashes predictions (part one)

When it comes to the Ashes, everyone has to have their say on the outcome. And we, at Guerilla Cricket, are no different. So here, in the first of two features, are the predictions from some of the finest/most deranged minds (delete as applicable) in the game. Expect wild optimism, psychotic pessimism, rigorously-applied stats (think pi), and bizarre nods to Rudyard Kipling and BBC crime documentaries. Not to mention a couple of Glenn McGraths. Talking of worthless opinions, we've even let some of our Australian friends have a go. David Barratt Guerilla Cricket contributor / jingle writer @MenWithVenUK.

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The Guerillas

'The steady ebbing away of hope': the Guerilla crew give their Ashes predictions (part two)

When it comes to the Ashes, everyone has to have their say on the outcome. And we, at Guerilla Cricket, are no different. So here, in the second of two features, are the predictions from some of the finest/most deranged minds (delete as applicable) in the game. Expect wild optimism, psychotic pessimism, rigorously-applied stats (think pi), and a couple of Glenn McGraths. Talking of worthless opinions, we've even let some of our Australian friends have a go. Nigel Henderson Guerilla Cricket founder / anchor @guerillahendo.

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Tony Bishop

Love in the afternoon session: Ashes liaisons that left their mark

Winning the Ashes, or a crucial game within it, leaves an imprint on the emotions – almost as strong as being in love in some cases. Tony Bishop finds the two corresponding in four tales of longing – and belonging – that take him from the Oval to a Curry's shopfront via the former Yugoslavia and the New Forest. Love is indeed a many splendored thing. Complex and metaphysical with ever- shifting depth and dimension. A simple word that can cover such a range of emotion. I love my family; I have been in love many times; I am in love with my partner now. I love wine, the Blues and Bob Dylan; I love Watford; I love Middlesex. And I love the Ashes.

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Hendo

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.

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Paul Howarth

The summer of '05: like a trick of the memory

It was the best of times. When England regained the Ashes after 16 long years of pain, Paul Howarth was working his way up at an advertising agency. Sometimes he actually went into the office. Mostly, though, cricket was uppermost in his mind. You could be forgiven for thinking nothing else existed in the summer of 2005. Work, school, shopping, emptying one's bowels, spending time with loved ones, hobbying, looking for a misplaced biro (how many have we had in this house?). All of these things must've happened. It's just that I can't remember any of them.

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Brett Mckay

Beware the Usman Khawaja enigma, my English friends…

All of the talk is about the damage Smith and Warner might do to the English attack, but pour a little sunshine on to the Aussie pitches, mix with a Kookaburra ball, and a certain left-handed No 3 has the ingredients he needs to make the tourists suffer, says Brett McKay. Usman Khawaja: Gower, Harvey and Mark Waugh rolled into one – in Australia. Death, taxes, and an early-season Usman Khawaja run spree.

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Hendo

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.

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Hendo

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.

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Will Cockerell

Memoirs of a Saffers Junkie

Has there been a more consistently absorbing Test Match rivalry over the past 40 years to match the struggles of England versus South Africa? Will Cockerell believes not, as he reminisces on some epic affairs since the end of apartheid. 1994 It's almost impossible to describe the euphoria of the opening days of the Lord's Test of 1994 and our renewed acquaintance with a fabled foe. The weather was perfect and it was nostalgic to see Cap'n Kepler, he of Ashes' '85 ilk, grind out an emotional ton on an evenly poised 1st day. After that, the mother of all shellackings, with England dire and Atherton getting his hands dirty; too dirty as it turned out. An wild and apoplectic Jon Agnew called for skipper's head, which many felt was "a bit much".

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Scott Rutherford

Guerillas in the midst of special Test match revolution

"They're not as funny as they think they are," sniffed Stephen Brenkley, the cricket correspondent of the now partially defunct Independent, in 2012, hoping perhaps, by damning with faint praise, to halt the Test Match Sofa bandwagon that was hurtling down the slope from the Pavilion End and threatening to deliver some unwelcome chin music to the cricket Establishment. It was true, though, they weren't as funny as they thought they were. Very few people are. But they were funny. And, worryingly for that Establishment, they were also knowledgeable, insightful, could generally ball-by-ball with the best of them and could turn their hands to a variety of subjects that you wouldn't expect to hear on a cricket commentary.

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Andy Ward

Series review: Ashes 2015

The 2015 Ashes series was the third in two years due to a schedule rearrangement designed to help England's World Cup campaign the next winter (lol). If the clashes of 2005 and 2009 will be remembered as vibrant contests of punching and counter-punching, this was more like two drunks whaling on each other at closing time. England of course won 3-2 in the end, keeping the Aussies without a series win on these shores since 2001. The two matches they won were by 405 runs, Steve Smith helping himself to a double hundred at Lords, and an innings & 46 in the dead rubber at the Oval. England won by 169 runs in Cardiff, 8 wickets on their lucky ground of Edgbaston, and decisively by an innings & 78 at Trent Bridge.

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Gary Naylor

Series review: SA v ENG 2015/2016

England's four half-centurions in the First Test vs South Africa in 2015-16 provide a contrast in how the cricketing Gods dispense their favours: Nick Compton and James Taylor won't play international cricket again; Joe Root is the new Test captain and Jonny Bairstow has rewritten the record books for wicketkeeper-batsmen. None of that was clear when their contributions with the bat and Man of the Match, Moeen Ali's seven wickets, got England off to a winning start against a strong South Africa team playing in home conditions.

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Paul Howarth

Series review: IND v ENG 2016

India 4 England 0 – 2016 Test series review. If nominative determinism has a place in cricket, last winter proved it. Virat Kohli is Majestic. Literally. That's what Virat means. Captain Kohli, complete with his I've-just-shagged-your-sister grin, led India to a comprehensive series victory over an England side that was simply ground into the dust over six exhausting weeks. As a batsman, Kohli was nigh-on untouchable, weighing in with 655 runs at an average of 109. He skippered with élan and vision, too, although it does help when you have the double spin threat of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja at your disposal. Respectively the world's top-ranked and most economical Test bowlers, they combined lethally to deliver 54 wickets.

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Nakul Pande

Series review: IND v AUS 2017

Rahane Rescues King Kohli's Creaking Conquerors. India 2-1 Australia. 13 home Tests, 10 wins, 2 draws and 1 loss. Four series wins, and when it all came to an end India were world number one and held every bilateral series title. Easy, right? Wrong. So wrong. Those Tests came at a rate of one every fortnight for 6 straight months. This is, to use a technical term, batshit. The resultant roll-call of injured shoulders (Kohli, KL Rahul), sports hernias (Ravichandran Ashwin), broken jaws (Murali Vijay), and general brokenness (Mohammed Shami) came as no surprise.

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