Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 7th 2013 Contents A39
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MANCHESTER---England has called
up paceman Graham Onions to its 13-
man squad for the fourth Ashes test
against Australia at Durham.
Offspinner Monty Panesar and
batsman James Taylor dropped out of
the group, which will look to secure a
draw or victory to win the Ashes
outright after retaining the urn with a
draw at Old Trafford on Monday.
National selector Geoff Miller says
"while the players should be
congratulated on retaining the
Ashes, there is still a lot of cricket
left in this series and it is important
that the players recover and refocus
ahead of another crucial week of test
Squad: Alastair Cook (captain),
James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian
Bell, Tim Bresnan, Stuart Broad,
Graham Onions, Kevin Pietersen, Matt
Prior, Joe Root, Graeme Swann, Chris
Tremlett, Jonathan Trott.
England calls up Onions for fourth Ashes Test
This is not what retaining the
Ashes is meant to feel like. A gen-
eration of England supporters,
raised on hubris and weaned on
disappointment, who, until 2005,
went 16 years waiting for this
moment, might have found this like
a sip of warm champagne. Anti-
climax hung over Old Trafford as
tenaciously as the clouds.
It was not just that it rained. We
expected that. It was that, before
the rain, England were disconcert-
Their three best batsmen were all
dismissed in the brief window of
play possible and, of the two that
survived, Joe Root was dropped dur-
ing a torturous innings that under-
lined the concerns about his readi-
ness to face the new ball at this level
and Ian Bell sustained a blow to his
thumb that briefly provoked fears
that it may end his involvement in
the series. England did not so much
cruise past the winning line as col-
lapse on it.
As it was, the ECB confirmed that
Bell is not seriously hurt and is not
an injury doubt for the fourth
Investec Test on Friday. The squad
for the game is the XI that played
here, plus Graham Onions and Chris
Steven Finn remains surplus to
requirements and, with Kevin
Pietersen having proved his fitness,
James Taylor is not required. Both
Tremlett and Onions will, perhaps
surprisingly, play for their counties
in the Friends Life T20 quarter-finals
on Tuesday evening.
The pedantic might point out that
the series is not decided. And it is
true that Australia might yet leave
the UK with a 2-2 draw. But they
came to win back the urn, not share
Perhaps England are the victims
of their own expectations. They have,
after all, retained the Ashes in the
minimum number of games possi-
ble---a feat achieved only once before
in a five-match series, in 1928-29---
and they were worthy winners of
the first two Tests.
There was a time when that would
have been enough to warrant
unstinting praise. Perhaps it still
should be. Certainly many England
supporters will not care a jot how
this result was achieved.
After years of pain, retaining the
Ashes in almost any manner is cause
for celebration. To have held the Ashes
after three successive series underlines
the impression that this is a golden
age for English cricket. No England
side has achieved such a feat since
the 1950s. Maybe it says everything
about how far England have pro-
gressed in recent times that this result
has not provoked caveat-free joy.
It would be wrong to diminish
their success too. Series are decided
across several weeks, not a few days,
and England are not the first side
to benefit from some assistance from
the weather in such circumstances.
It does not negate their achieve-
But England would be deluding
themselves if they did not admit to
some concerns after this game.
The most obvious was the impres-
sion Australia s fast bowlers gained
more from the pitch than England s.
It is true that Australia won an
important toss and first use of a
good pitch but, even in Australia s
second innings, England s seamers
failed to find the bounce and move-
ment available to the excellent Peter
Siddle and Ryan Harris.
There are various reasons for that.
One of them is simply that the Aus-
tralian pair are stronger than their
England counterparts and able to
thump the ball into the pitch a little
harder. Both attacks gained swing
but Australia appeared to swing the
ball later and gain more movement
off the pitch.
The England attack also looked
weary. Perhaps it was the nerves of
appearing on his home ground, per-
haps it was his workload---he has
hardly looked the same since that
14-over spell at Trent Bridge---but
James Anderson endured one of his
least impressive displays of the last
18 months, while Stuart Broad is,
albeit somewhat unfortunately, tak-
ing his wickets at a cost of 52.00
apiece so far this series.
In the longer-term, Broad needs
to strengthen himself considerably
if he is to fulfil his potential. In the
short-term, a case could be made
to rest one or other of them from
the team for the next couple of Tests.
The batting is also a worry.
Jonathan Trott, in particular, and
Cook, by their own high standards,
look someway short of their best.
Trott has fallen---almost literal-
ly---into an old habit of over balanc-
ing on to the off side when he plays
to leg, while Pietersen should reflect
more on his loose stroke, throwing
his hands at a ball well outside off
stump at a time when his side
required him to resist throughout
the day, far more than the reasonable
umpiring decision that cost his wick-
et in the second innings.
Jonny Bairstow might, in a dif-
ferent era, consider himself fortunate
to retain his place.
England captains continue to be
defined by their performance in
Ashes series and Cook, in his first
at the helm, has retained the Urn in
the minimum amount of Tests pos-
sible. So you might have expected
him to be in celebratory mood.
Instead he appeared deflated and
used a hardly euphoric phrase to
describe the atmosphere in the Eng-
"The feeling in the dressing room
is very pleasant," Cook said in the
voice of a fellow on the phone to
"We wanted to keep the Ashes
and we have done that. Now we
want to go on and win them.
"It s a strange feeling. We ve been
behind the eight-ball in this game,
but we ve fought hard and if you
had offered us this position 14 days
ago, we would have snatched your
"We didn t play our best game
here and were put under pressure
by Australia. But we fought extreme-
ly hard, batting a long time. Avoiding
the follow-on was crucial, so I can t
complain how we have handled this
"We have found ourselves in sit-
uations like this over last couple of
years: the last Test in New Zealand,
when Matt Prior batted fantastically
well, and in Nagpur, where the whole
side batted well. We knew we had
experience to get through it. We are
proving we are a hard side to beat."
Indeed they are. But with Australia
improving and England stuttering,
the celebrations will be muted. Both
sides head to Durham with some-
thing to prove.
Sip of warm champagne
England players celebrate retaining
the Ashes on the Old Trafford balcony
on Monday but even that was muted.
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