A lucky victory for England

against the Windies yesterday.

They tried their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but thankfully failed and in the process made Michael Vaughan the England captain with the most wins to his name – but is he the most successful ’til he wins the Ashes in Australia? – and gave them another home series win.

It certainly was a Test of two halves the first producing some of the worst cricket seen outside of a Bangladesh v Zimbabwe match, with some shockingly bad all round play. The Windies batting and bowling was bad but nowhere near as crap as their fielding. Just wonder how closer they would have come to winning this test and squaring up the series if catches had been taken. The Windies second attempt was far better with some good bowling by Sammy and then some far better batting especially from Chanderpaul who nearly nicked it.

England’s bowling in the first innings was as to be expected, Monty and Sidebottom good, as they had been previously the two from Durham, as before, beyond inept. In the second well Harmison showed some promise as he finally kept the ball somewhere in the vicinity of the batsmen. The work Alan Donald has done with him as worked so far. It really didn’t need much, a better grip and release of the ball, no more of that floppy wrist and to work on his head. Some of that work on the head will have been sorted out with the work on his release mechanics but the most important part now is to work on that bit of his head that still thinks, as he has been saying over the last few weeks, – “I’ve nothing to prove”.

A few good overs in one test doesn’t mean you are back to being the best as he was a few years back. It needs outings of this consistency over a long period and to not take this one decent performance and live of it for the next 12 months as Harmison has done for far too long now. He still has a lot to prove.

As for the other one, well with the fact that Vaughan didn’t give Plunkett the ball on the final day and then his dropping it should send him a message – I couldn’t trust you and you ain’t up to it at this level.

Some of this is his fault, how much work has he done on trying to rectify his problems? But a lot of it has to do with those around him. Peter “Daisy” Hartley says Plunkett had the perfect side on action, that’s been coached out of him for this front on mess. That and the fact he’s tried to learn the game by only playing at international level, as with Anderson and Mahmood – the Fletcher method – and this doesn’t work.

Fletcher didn’t think much of the county game and maybe it does have it’s down sides but it does far more to prepare you for the game at the highest level than going round the world sat on your arse, bringing out drinks, bowling in the nets and then playing the odd international. All of them have been underbowled, over coached and over tinkered with to be any use now.

Monty doesn’t bowl to everyone’s liking, too fast and too flat but he gets wickets and far more of them than Giles would do, these last two games at Old Trafford where Monty won it compared to the drawn Ashes game of ’05. It just highlights more why Fletcher should have been sacked.

I’m with Sir Geoffrey as well over Strauss, he’s had a bad run of things, ever since he lost the captaincy of the winter Ashes tour. But they’re scared of stigmatising someone by “dropping” them they should be looking at it as giving him a rest from the failure spotlight and bringing in a younger player to give them a taste of the international game against a not great side who are already 2-0 down. I would have liked to see Ravi Bopara given a go.

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