Tag Archives: bowling

Australia rip apart Sri Lanka in Boxing Day Test in Melbourne

Aussies run riot on Boxing Day to rip apart Sri Lanka in Melbourne opener

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UPDATED:

09:01 GMT, 26 December 2012

A brilliant display of pace bowling allowed Australia to assume control of their second Test with Sri Lanka on its opening day in Melbourne.

Having been asked to bowl first in the traditional Boxing Day encounter, Michael Clarke's men skittled their visitors for just 156 midway through the afternoon session, before closing up just six runs shy of that total for the loss of three wickets.

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

Festive fun: Mitchell Johnson celebrates taking the wicket of Tillakaratne Dilshan

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

In the swing of things: Matthew Wade and Mitchell Johnson mark the dismissal of Kumar Sangakkara

A reinvigorated Mitchell Johnson was the standout performer in the Baggy Green, with the often-maligned quick taking a four for 63 that was ably supported by two each from Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon and debutant Jackson Bird.

David Warner then smashed a 46-ball 62 to get Australia up and running in their pursuit of a first innings lead, something that now looks a certainty, despite Sri Lanka taking three wickets before the bails were flicked.

Had their own score been a better one that would have been respectable but, with such a failure on the board, they already look up against it, but only have themselves to blame.

The Australia pace attack got a bit of movement out of the pitch during the first session, but Sri Lanka were let down by a series of poor shots and Kumar Sangakkara was the only batsman to look comfortable.

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

Day to remember: Aussie fans enjoyed the action on a balmy day in Melbourne

That was until Wade combined with Johnson to pull off a brilliant catch with the veteran on 58.
Sangakkara had not played a false shot all day, but was tempted into hooking a short Johnson delivery that bounced higher than expected and could only collect the top edge.

The ball flew straight over Wade's head, but the wicketkeeper kept his eyes on the ball and sprinted over 30 metres towards the sightscreen, before producing a dive to pull off a tremendous catch that dismissed the man who became the 11th in history to register 10,000 Test runs earlier in his innings.

Sangakkara's patience at the crease and ability to punish anything loose was the only highlight of a poor batting performance from the tourists as questionable shot selection led to many of his team-mates' demise.

Bird (two for 32) had his first Test victim with the 22nd delivery of the morning when Dimuth Karunaratne (five) came forward to a ball on a good length, but was only able to edge one through to Wade behind the stumps.

The usually reliable Tillakaratne Dilshan (11) was guilty of the worst shot of the day as he attempted to hit a booming straight drive off Johnson, only to inside edge it onto his off stump to reduce Sri Lanka to 19 for two.

Siddle (two for 30) made it 37 for three shortly after when Mahela Jayawardene (three) nicked one through to Wade, before Sangakkara combined with Thilan Samaraweera to take the score through to 79 for three at lunch.

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Gone: Phillip Hughes is run out by Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara

Bird, who had bowled intelligently during his first stint in the morning, had his second wicket with the third ball after lunch when Samaraweera (10) lofted a short one and Angelo Matthews (15) came and went moments later as the wickets continued to tumble around Sangakkara.

A Prasanna Jayawardene (24) cameo gave Sri Lanka some hope, but when he got a ripper from Johnson and Dhammika Prasad fell the very next ball for a duck, the tourists were 134 for seven and in all sorts of trouble.

Lyon (two for 23) came in to clean up the tail with ease and Australia – with captain Michael Clarke having passed a fitness test before the start of play – set about making hay.

Warner and Ed Cowan raced out to 95 before the former found the hands of Prasad at mid-wicket off the bowling of Andrews, with Phil Hughes then doing little to enhance his credentials as a number three by getting caught out of his ground by Dilshan when on 10.

Another wicket followed when Cowan nicked Prasad to Mahela Jayawardene at second slip, and Australia looked to be reeling when Shane Watson edged the same man to Prasanna Jayawardene, only to see a one-handed attempt at a catch go to ground.

The reprieve stopped the slide and Watson (13no) and Clarke (20no) saw things through to the finish.

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Sight for sore eyes: A view of the Melbourne Cricket Ground on day one of the second Test

Rafa Benitez"s bowling trip the new secret to success ahead of Monterrey clash

Is this Rafa's secret to success Benitez's bowling trip ahead of Monterrey clash worked a treat

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UPDATED:

18:54 GMT, 13 December 2012

He came to Chelsea with a reputation as a tactical genius. He introduced unorthodox zonal-marking and squad-rotation systems when he took charge of Liverpool in 2005. Now, though, it seems Rafa Benitez has uncovered a new winning formula.

The Blues boss took his team bowling on Tuesday night as they prepared for their Club World Cup semi-final tie against Mexican outfit Monterrey.

Chelsea won 3-1, Torres was back among the scorers and the players were having fun. Was this another Benitez tactical masterstroke

Tactical masterstroke Rafa's Ten-pin tactics paid off as Chelsea beat Monterrey

Tactical masterstroke Rafa's Ten-pin tactics paid off as Chelsea beat Monterrey

Having fun Oscar, David Luiz, and Ramires seemed to enjoy themselves

Having fun Oscar, David Luiz, and Ramires seemed to enjoy themselves

Ashley Cole didn't impress with his bowling technique and he was forced to wait on the team as punishment

Ashley Cole didn't impress with his bowling technique and he was forced to wait on the team as punishment

I know what I'm doing: Benitez may have lifted the Chelsea players' spirits

I know what I'm doing: Benitez may have lifted the Chelsea players' spirits

Not a lot has gone right for Rafa since he took over from Roberto Di Matteo as Chelsea manager. He started with back-to-back 0-0 results in the league followed by a 3-1 defeat at West Ham and an embarrassing early exit from the Champions League, the first time the holders have ever fallen this early.

And, of course, all this with the boos and groans of discontent from Chelsea fans in the background.

But in the last few days things appear to be looking up for the ‘fat Spanish waiter’. They won 3-1 at Sunderland and set off for Japan for what must feel like welcome relief from the scrutiny back home.

Above all, it appears the Blues are having fun in the Far East. They were mobbed by adoring Premier League fans when they arrived and now it looks like Rafa has found the secret formula to make Chelsea fire again.

Wrong sport: Juan Mata tries the shot-put with a bowling ball

Wrong sport: Juan Mata tries the shot-put with a bowling ball

Good technique: David Luiz shows off his bowling skills

Good technique: David Luiz shows off his bowling skills

Good job son: Torres was amongst the goals in Yokohama as Chelsea won 3-1

Good job son: Torres was amongst the goals in Yokohama as Chelsea won 3-1

All smiles: Whatever happened at bowling must have worked as Chelsea brushed aside the Mexican side

All smiles: Whatever happened at bowling must have worked as Chelsea brushed aside the Mexican side

But if the Blues come back having lost to Corinthians in the final it will be perceived as a worthless trip, as was the case when Liverpool lost to Sao Paulo in 2005.

At least Benitez has got Torres scoring again and team morale looks to be the best it has been since that famous night in Munich in May.

Rafa Benitez battling jet-lag at Club World Cup, a prize that should be football"s crowning glory, but isn"t – Martin Samuel

Benitez battling jet-lag at a Club World Cup that is still trying to wake up… a prize that should be football's crowning glory, but isn't

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UPDATED:

00:29 GMT, 13 December 2012

Rafael Benitez was up late last night. Bowling. As you do. Well, you do in Japan. Some western visitors have been known to hit the driving range at 3am, as Liverpool did in 1981. Jet-lag does that.

Benitez said, three days into Chelsea's trip, he was still averaging only four hours sleep each night. He could handle it, he insisted, but he worried about his players.

And there, in microcosm, is the conundrum facing the manager of the European contender at the Club World Cup. The prize, to be the world champions of club football, sounds grand; the status of the competition remains pitiful.

Raf night's sleep: Benitez is attempting to lead Chelsea to world title glory

Raf night's sleep: Benitez is attempting to lead Chelsea to world title glory

Chelsea were dispatched to Sunderland by the Premier League the day they were scheduled to leave for Japan — they flew to Tokyo from Newcastle via Helsinki — and the day after they arrive back, presuming an appearance in the final on Sunday, they must head north to play Leeds United in the Capital One Cup quarter-finals.

Nobody is advocating doctoring the fixtures to give Chelsea a break, but the team it is presumed they will face in the final, Corinthians of Brazil, will have been in Japan for two weeks by the time the trophy is at stake.

Corinthians mean it, man. The South Americans mean it. They didn’t play well against Al-Ahly yesterday but this tournament, even when it was a stripped down, one-off match between two continental champions, has always had its greatest cachet beyond Europe.

The most excited members of Chelsea’s travelling party were their Brazilian contingent. David Luiz said he grew up watching club football’s world championship and dreaming of participating.

Meanwhile, back home, the match that will dominate the headlines this week took place between Bradford City and a demotivated Arsenal. The idea that Chelsea’s game with Monterrey of Mexico today might share equal billing is fanciful.

Dream come true: Luiz is one of the Chelsea stars delighted to be involved in the competition

Dream come true: Luiz is one of the Chelsea stars delighted to be involved in the competition

Dream come true: Luiz is one of the Chelsea stars delighted to be involved in the competition

The presumption is of a walkover, even though Manchester United could only draw 1-1 in 2000 with Mexican champions Necaxa, who came third, beating Real Madrid for that dubious honour.

The surest confirmation that the Club World Cup has arrived will be when the coach of the European entrant is not giving his press conference with matches holding his eyelids open. Benitez concedes that is a way off yet. He knows, however, that he is two wins away from his first trophy as Chelsea manager: and that winning it would make the club world champions. It won’t get his name sung sweetly by the Shed End but it’s a start.

‘In Europe we don’t consider this tournament too much but I think it’s getting better,’ Benitez said. ‘You have more teams in the other continents getting stronger, and that will help. In 2010 with Inter Milan, we beat Mazembe of Congo in the final.

'I was laughing about this with Oscar as Mazembe played Internacional of Porto Alegre, his team, who were much better. It seemed they had to beat Mazembe but they lost. People in this continent, they bring good players and have good teams.

‘The standards of the competitions are different, but the teams that win them are good. Monterrey are a good team, so these matches are tricky. The tempo is the key but if they can match our intensity they will make it difficult and then you never know.

‘When you play a Brazilian team, in my
experience they make it slow and won’t allow you to go quick. They keep
the ball, they pass it. My Brazilian friends tell me that when Spain get
to the World Cup in 2014, the grass will be long, like this.’ Benitez
gestured ankle deep. ‘All these things have to be considered.

Eden in the right direction Hazard enjoys a joke with his team-mates

Eden in the right direction Hazard enjoys a joke with his team-mates

Eden in the right direction Hazard enjoys a joke with his team-mates

‘One day this tournament will be considered differently. There are teams around the world now, in Asia or any big country, they have money and pay big for players.

‘Over time, the others will be much better. I remember having a conversation with a club and they said they wanted to win the league, then the Asian championship and then the Club World Cup. That was their target. Rich owners will spend money and the teams will be better. But they need time. The tempo in England and Spain is different, but in terms of players and technique they are good.’

The perception is that the Club World Cup is a trifle, two matches, a matter of days. Actually it is the biggest slog in club football and not just in terms of the flight.

A Chelsea victory would be the culmination of a two-and-a-half year process that began on August 14, 2010, with a 6-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. That season the club finished second and qualified for the Champions League. The following season, they won the Champions League. And that victory got them the invite that could culminate in a position as world champions.

Of course, at just about any other club, this progression would have been made under one manager. This being Chelsea, the man who finished second, Carlo Ancelotti, was sacked, as was the man who got them out of their Champions League group stage, Andre Villas-Boas, as was the man who won the Champions League final, Roberto Di Matteo.

Chelsea could be the first club to win a World Cup by accident. Benitez would lift the trophy, but he is the fourth manager to play a part in the club’s run through this tournament, which has been far from smooth.

So what awaits them today Victor
Vucetich, Monterrey’s manager is a wily old fox who has five domestic
titles and two CONCACAF Champions League crowns to his name.

Stern test The Monterrey players can cause a huge upset by beating the European champions

Stern test The Monterrey players can cause a huge upset by beating the European champions

Stern test The Monterrey players can cause a huge upset by beating the European champions

His team are nimble but use height in the forward line, and Vucetich appeared heartened that Chelsea are not a traditionally imposing English side. His prediction they will score, however, suggests he shares a worldwide realism about the true nature of this competition.

And there is the problem. There is a great tournament trying to break out here, with a wonderful accolade as its prize. Unfortunately, with the best teams allowed to delay entry until the semi-final stage, and the hosting rights farmed out to parts of the world that do not have football in the blood, FIFA undermine their own competition.

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Net result: FIFA are trialing new goalline technology at the tournament

Chelsea defender Ashley Cole loses Rafa Benitez"s bowling game in Japan

Cheque please! Ashley Cole becomes team waiter after losing Rafa's bowling trip

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UPDATED:

08:13 GMT, 13 December 2012

One week after being skittled out of the Champions League, Rafa Benitez organised a ten-pin bowling expedition for his Chelsea players with Ashley Cole among those to suffer in the unforgiving lanes of Yokohama.

Benitez hatched the Japanese bowling trip to help his players bond and fight the jet-lag ahead of their debut in the FIFA Club World Cup. Players and staff split into small groups with the worst bowlers being made to wait on tables for their team-mates.

'It wasn’t really about who won, it was about who lost,' revealed Gary Cahill, who performed better than left-back Cole. 'Whoever lost had to serve the dinner at the hotel. It was Ashley in our group.'

Loser: Ashley Cole was forced to wait on his teammates after losing the bowling tournament

Loser: Ashley Cole was forced to wait on his teammates after losing the bowling tournament

He added: 'There were about six of us and he was waiting on us. I have to say, he’s a better left-back than a waiter. I think the only tip anyone gave him was: “Don’ t do it again”.

'Everyone played, including the manager. There were a few strikes and the standard was alright, actually. I’d describe myself as an average bowler. It was a bit of team bonding, a chance to get the lads together and then we had some food.

'It was good because aside from that, we’ve just been preparing for the games. This has given us an opportunity because we’re all away together for a few days and once you’ve trained, there’s nothing on.

'That’s been the only thing really. We’re not here on holiday. We’re here for a reason. We’re here to prepare for the game. But we’ve had a bit of down time when we first came and it was good to get out for an hour instead of going stir-crazy in the hotel.'

Chelsea will get down to business on Thursday when they face Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-final

Chelsea will get down to business on Thursday when they face Monterrey in the Club World Cup semi-final

Benitez also wanted to guard against jet-lag and feared if the players had free time in the evening they would spend the evening snoozing, settling into the wrong sleep patterns for a team who will launch their campaign on Thursday against Monterrey, of Mexico.

'I was here in 2005 and we knew we had to do something to keep the players busy because if not they go to sleep,' said Benitez, the first manager to lead three different teams into the Club World Cup.

'When they are thinking they need to go to sleep, we had to organise some activities to keep them ready. The majority understand they have to do it. Each person is different. For most people it is not the main thing but for a player who has to compete, sleep is really important.'

Relaxed: Juan Mata and Frank Lampard have some fun in training at the Yokohama International Stadium

Relaxed: Juan Mata and Frank Lampard have some fun in training at the Yokohama International Stadium

English teams have suffered similar problems in the past. When Liverpool were in Tokyo for the Toyota Cup final against Flamengo in December 1981, some players were struggling to sleep on the eve of the game and they went to a nearby driving range for 30 minutes to hit some golf balls. It did not help as they were beaten next day by the Brazilians.

Despite their early exit from this year’s Champions League, this tournament has rekindled memories of Chelsea’s victory in Munich in May, as did Didier Drogba’ s decision to buy “Superbowl” style commemorative rings for his team-mates and staff at a personal cost thought to be around 800,000.

'It was an amazing surprise,' said Cahill. 'I had no idea when he came in and called us all together. I was very touched. It was extremely generous for a start because it was his idea and no-one needs to go out and do that. Not just for us for the staff as well.

'It shows what his character is. He is a great lad. It reminds us of what a great achievement it was. He said that's why he did it, so that none of us forget what a huge achievement it was.

'It’s something I'll keep for the rest of my life but I’m not sure it’s a ring I’d wear. I'm not flashy. It’s more of a memento. It's personal and individual to every player and something you want to save.'

Ravichandran Ashwin frustrates England as they close in on victory

Day four analysis: Ashwin makes England wait as Cook and co close on emphatic win

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UPDATED:

12:23 GMT, 8 December 2012

Ravichandran Ashwin's one-man show of defiance with the bat may have frustratingly held up England's victory charge but sometime tomorrow morning Alastair Cook's side will establish a 2-1 lead in this series.

That prospect would have appeared beyond the realms of fantasy when Andrew Strauss sat in a stark back room at Galle in late March following England's fourth consecutive Test defeat.

The press conference in question was the first time Strauss' position as England captain had been publicly questioned. It came after yet another loss in Asian conditions following the 3-0 whitewash against Pakistan in the UAE and it was a spinner, Sri Lanka's Rangana Herath, who again had been England's chief tormentor.

Dominate display: Ravichandran Ashwin was a key man with the bat for India

Dominate display: Ravichandran Ashwin was a key man with the bat for India

The team's ability to play spin, or lack of it, has been the theme of the year away from home. Although the subsequent victory in Colombo saw England draw that series in Sri Lanka 1-1, their demons against spin bowling reappeared with a vengeance when they lost the first Test of this series by nine wickets in Ahmedabad.

/12/08/article-2244987-15EEBEB5000005DC-218_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead” class=”blkBorder” />

In control: Alastair Cook's team look set to take a 2-1 lead

If the questions about spin had been like a broken record to all connected with English cricket then what has occurred in these last two, glorious Tests must be akin to discovering a lost orchestral masterpiece.

The victory in Mumbai, only England's second in India in 27 years, was good. This, though, at Eden Gardens promises to be even better.

At lunch yesterday, with Virender Sehwag poised on 49 and India just 121 runs behind with ten second-innings wickets in hand, the momentum of a match which England had dominated for three days was threatening to swing back in the home side's favour.

Just 79 devastating minutes after the interval and the door which England had allowed India to push ajar had been ruthlessly slam shut.

Six wickets fell in that period, kickstarted by Graeme Swann bowling Sehwag with the first ball after lunch. They looked like completing the job after tea, knocking over Virat Kohli, Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma, before an inspired Ashwin took matters into his own hands.

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

Spin king: Graeme Swann had a good session after lunch

No wonder the spinner is fighting hard. India have not lost at this ground since 1999 but his defiance will surely be in vain as England look to move ever closer to their first series victory in India since 1984/85.

Hopefully by lunch tomorrow, all that stands between's Cook's men and a place in history will be avoiding defeat in the final Test in Nagpur. They have proved they are undoubtedly the better side over these last two Tests.

Now they have to finish the job in the morning.

We are unable to carry live pictures from the third Test in Kolkata due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.
The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.
MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Steven Finn fit to face India as England contemplate omitting Stuart Broad for third Test

Finn champing at bit to face India as England contemplate omitting Broad for third Test

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UPDATED:

09:08 GMT, 3 December 2012


Bowled over: Finn is ready and raring to go for the third Test in Kolkata

Bowled over: Finn is ready and raring to go for the third Test in Kolkata

Steven Finn has described himself as 'ready to go' as England consider whether to drop vice-captain Stuart Broad ahead of Wednesday's crucial third Test in Kolkata.

Finn, who picked up a thigh injury after bowling only four overs on the opening day of the tour in Mumbai, came through a workout in the Eden Gardens nets this morning, and is set to share new-ball duties with Jimmy Anderson.

'I did exactly what I planned to do today,' he said. 'I bowled six overs in two spells – four and two. And I bowled well and I feel that if I'm needed on Wednesday I'll be ready to go.'

The inclusion of Finn would be bad news for Broad, whose combined figures in the Ahmedabad and Mumbai Tests were a disappointing 36-2-157-0.

England's Twenty20 captain has not been dropped from the Test side since the previous full tour of India, four years ago, when he was left out of the game at Chennai.

'It's difficult as a bowler,' said Finn. 'There's no hiding place, and you have to keep running in. But Broady's an exceptional bowler. He's played 50-odd Test matches, so he's a world-class player and we’ll know he’ll come back, definitely.'

Following their stunning 10-wicket in at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, England are keen to keep India on the canvas.

Sitting it out Broad may miss out after failing to take a wicket all series

Sitting it out Broad may miss out after failing to take a wicket all series

And, as fast-bowling coach David Saker
intimated last week when he spoke of Finn's X-factor, that involves
enacting their original plan of hitting the hosts with their fastest
bowler.

'It's definitely encouraging for the bowling coach to be saying that about you,’ said Finn. 'I feel in good rhythm coming into it. I had a run-out the other day in Navi Mumbai with the Performance Programme, and I feel in a good place.

'The injury was majorly disappointing.
I’ve never had that feeling of something popping before. It was alien to
me, as well as scary and frustrating knowing I had a chance of playing
in that first Test match.

Picture dispute

We are unable to carry live pictures from England's tour of India due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

'But I’ve had a little bit of time out, and I feel fresh for it. You can put a positive spin on it, and say my body’s had a chance of recovering from the English season and the Twenty20 World Cup. I can’t feel the injury at all now.'

And Finn, whose 16 Tests have brought him 66 wickets at the useful average of 28, is determined not to endure a repeat of his Mumbai experience, where his participation in the Performance Programme match meant he could follow events an hour away at the Wankhede only on TV.

'It was difficult knowing that the lads were there in Mumbai celebrating the win and being together, and I was on the other side of town watching it on TV.

'It was a strange sort of feeling, and something I didn’t particularly enjoy missing out on. I’m keen to get in on the act if it happens in this game.'

Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook score 22nd centuries: who is England"s greatest ever?

As Cook and Pietersen equal the greats, we ask: who is England's master blaster

PUBLISHED:

22:00 GMT, 30 November 2012

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 30 November 2012

They were different innings that both made history in one of England’s greatest ever Test wins, but in the week that both Kevin Pietersen and Alastair Cook equalled the England Test record by scoring their 22nd centuries we asked our panel of experts: who is the greatest England batsman of all time and why

Duelling pistols: Cook (left) and Pietersen have both notched 22 Test tons for England

Duelling pistols: Cook (left) and Pietersen have both notched 22 Test tons for England

Duelling pistols: Cook (left) and Pietersen have both notched 22 Test tons for England

Nasser Hussain

Former England captain and Sportsmail columnist

I can't remember the likes of Wally Hammond, Jack Hobbs and Len Hutton so I would like to go on what I’ve seen – and I have to choose Graham Gooch.

I am sure that, statistically, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen will both surpass everyone else – Cook will end up as the greatest in terms of stats and Pietersen will top everyone else in terms of sheer eye-catching brilliance.

But I will go for Gooch on the quality of the bowling he had to face. Think of any great opposition bowler over the last 40 years and Gooch has faced the majority of them – and in most cases scored runs against them – and he was just as good against both fast and spin bowling.

Class act: Gooch played against some of the best bowlers in history

Class act: Gooch played against some of the best bowlers in history

Think of Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram, Shane Warne, Abdul Qadir, Allan Donald, Shaun Pollock, Sir Richard Hadlee, Glenn McGrath. Even Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson in his early days. The list goes on and on and Gooch has mostly walloped them.

What’s more, he loved doing it for England, for Queen and country. You can still see how much England means to him. He’s English through and through.

Lawrence Booth

Sportsmail cricket writer and Wisden editor

History – if not necessarily personal experience – tells you it’s hard to look beyond the three H’s: Jack Hobbs, Wally Hammond and Len Hutton. All averaged in the mid-to-late 50s, and all three played on uncovered pitches, an alien concept to the contemporary cricketer.

Alastair Cook will end up as the leading England runscorer of all time, but they play more Tests these days: he has clocked up 85 in 6 years, while Hobbs managed only 61 in 22.

As for Kevin Pietersen – who, like Cook and Hammond, now has 22 Test hundreds – it’s hard to imagine any England batsman has ever played with his imagination and brass neck. But with his sense of adventure comes a vulnerability.

Ashes hero: Hobbs (centre) escapes a pitch invasion as Australia are beaten at The Oval in 1926

Ashes hero: Hobbs (centre) escapes a pitch invasion as Australia are beaten at The Oval in 1926

Hammond, by all accounts, was a glorious
stylist, especially through the off side, and would have been regarded
as the greatest player in the world had Don Bradman not ruined things.

Hutton was a cussed leader, whose numbers would have been even more impressive had war not intervened.

But Hobbs scored 12 Test hundreds
against Australia alone – a figure Cook and Pietersen would love on
their CVs. If I had to choose an England player to bat all day for my
life, it would be Jack Hobbs.

Standard bearer: Gooch

Standard bearer: Gooch

Paul Newman

Sportsmail cricket correspondent

It’s Graham Gooch for me. Not just for the fact that, for now, he remains England’s leading Test runscorer with 8,900 but also because he kickstarted the modern era of professionalism in English cricket.

He wasn’t everybody’s choice as England captain but, for me, many of the ideas and attitudes that have served the modern England team well first came into being on the 1990 tour of the West Indies under Gooch.

You could not really call Gooch a
natural athlete but towards the twilight of his career he turned himself
into a fitness fanatic to prolong a career which, with his natural
ability and bravery, was as good as any Englishman’s in history. He was
always able to give his all to his county, Essex, as soon as each Test
was over, too.

I cannot excuse Gooch for going on a
rebel tour of South Africa but if he hadn’t done that he would surely
have made more than 10,000 runs by the time he finished. As it is, if
you add his county record, he has scored more runs in all first-class
and one-day cricket than any other Englishman and I know he will be
proud when, not if, his protg Alastair Cook goes past his England
tally.

David Lloyd

Former England batsman, coach and Sportsmail columnist

Kevin Pietersen is the best I have ever seen for England. But, remember, I didn’t see Hammond, Hobbs or Hutton so I can’t compare him to them. KP is the only England player in my time who gets me on the edge of my seat. He is box-office, like the premiere of a good film or a night at the Royal Albert Hall. He is special. Lots of people can play the guitar but there’s only one Eric Clapton and, even though Kevin can play the odd bum note, he’s cricket’s Clapton.

Entertainer: Bumble's vote goes to Pietersen

Entertainer: Bumble's vote goes to Pietersen

We’ve been talking about Ricky Ponting this week and he’s a great player. Then there are others like Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara, Sir Viv Richards and Rahul Dravid. Well, Pietersen is right up there with them.

Alastair Cook is only 27 and will go on to break all sorts of records but to me he’s like going to the theatre. I can have a wonderful evening and enjoy myself at the theatre but I’d rather go to see the Rolling Stones. KP is rock and roll. The greatest player I’ve ever seen is Sir Garry Sobers, but that’s a different story.

Stuart Broad must improve, says David Saker

BROADside! Coach tells bowler to buck up and drop the defeatist attitude

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UPDATED:

19:56 GMT, 27 November 2012

Wicketless: Broad has struggled in India

Wicketless: Broad has struggled in India

England will consider leaving one of their most influential players, Stuart Broad, out of the crucial third Test after his anaemic performances in India.

The vice-captain was a bystander in the historic win here in Mumbai and it emerged on Tuesday the tourists will not hesitate to drop a bowler who has been one of their outstanding cricketers over the last four years.

The morning after an epic day dawned with Steven Finn, who was set to play an integral role in England’s attack in India before injury, beginning his attempt to prove his fitness for next week’s Kolkata Test.

Finn played for the England
Performance Programme squad who have just begun their own month-long
tour of India and took four for 60 in 16 hostile overs against a Mumbai
side to enhance his chances of returning at Eden Gardens.

If he has no reaction from the thigh
injury he suffered in the first warm-up game of the tour, he will become
a strong contender and, with England sure to retain two spinners, it is
Broad’s place that is under threat.

The choice of David Saker, the
fast-bowling coach, to face the media yesterday looked a curious one in
the aftermath of such a spin-dominated triumph until it became clear
that he seemed anxious to provide Broad with a public kick up the
backside.

Vice-captain: Broad is second in command for EnglandVice-captain: Broad is second in command for England

Vice-captain: Broad is second in command for England

Chat: David Saker talks to James Anderson (right) during a practice session

Chat: David Saker talks to James Anderson (right) during a practice session

‘He needs to front up and find out what’s the best way to go about it over here,’ said Saker.

‘He has to find ways to survive in
India. The great fast bowlers have had success here. You can’t just
think that the fast bowlers won’t have much influence. A defeatist
attitude like that is pretty much not accepted.’

Broad was the leading Test
wicket-taker in world cricket in 2012 ahead of this tour and is highly
regarded by England but has had an anonymous two matches on
spin-friendly pitches, bowling 12 wicketless overs for 60 in the first
innings here and not even being used in the second.

His unhappy tour was compounded by a
Twitter spat with Sir Ian Botham after the first Test that earned him a
rebuke from Andy Flower.

‘I just think he’s lacking a bit of
confidence and finding it really difficult to get his head around maybe
changing the way he bowls in India,’ continued Saker. ‘If you bowl wide
of the stumps here you get hurt. We did discuss that before this trip,
how bowling straight is crucial, and we watched a lot of footage of the
teams who have come here and done well.’

Broad, as Twenty20 captain, is a
member of the management committee here and, in theory, would be in on
the discussions over his own place but England are clearly preparing him
for the possibility of bad news.

Saker confirmed that Broad was unwell
ahead of the second Test, as revealed by Sportsmail last Friday,
but that he had insisted he was fit enough to take his place.

‘He had a bit of illness and he was
asked on the first morning of the Test whether he was good to go and he
said yes,’ said the Australian.

Knocking on the door: Finn plays for the Performance Squad this week

Knocking on the door: Finn plays for the Performance Squad this week

‘If the coach says, “Are you all right
to go”, and you say yes then to me you’re 100 per cent fit. If you’re
not sure, it’s a decision for the captain and coach, but he said he was
right.’

FORM GUIDE

Stuart Broad is yet to take a wicket in two Tests here but his form in 2012 has been good. He has 40 wickets, making him the leading wicket-taker in Tests until he was overtaken by Graeme Swann in Ahmedabad.

Broad did well on Asian-type pitches when he took 13 wickets in the 3-0 defeat by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates but his best form came at home, with seven for 72 against West Indies at Lord’s and five wickets in the first innings against South Africa at Headingley.

Now Saker accepts that he must play
his part in restoring the brio that has made Broad such a confident and
successful competitor for England.

‘I’ve been blessed in that I haven’t
had to do a lot of hard yards as a bowling coach but now, with Tim
Bresnan and Stuart of late, we’ve had to have some good talks and maybe
some tinkering with actions.

‘The key is holding your length and
line. It’s an old adage but if you bowl at the stumps you’ve a chance.
Stuart probably just hasn’t played that well in these two Tests. Maybe
he’s looking for something that isn’t there. He’s asking questions that
probably don’t need to be asked.’

Saker insisted that he has every
confidence in Broad should he remain as one of only two seamers in
England’s Kolkata line-up but clearly he would like to see Finn’s extra
height and bounce added to the team.

‘Finn has been monitored the last few
days and he’s playing this game with the Lions squad so if he gets
through there’s a good chance he might play in Kolkata,’ said Saker.
‘He’s a special talent and has the pace we probably need for this place.
We’d like to get him. It will be an interesting selection call if he is
fit.’

There was a feeling of satisfaction
here among the England squad on Tuesday but there is no question that
another defeat would have led to some tough questions being asked within
the camp.

Saker added: ‘I was questioning myself as to whether we were
doing the right things, and if I’m doing that I think others in the camp
were wondering if we were going in the right direction too. But it
turned out to be as good a win as I’ve experienced with this group.’

England are considering adding
another spinner to their squad after the spectacular success of Monty
Panesar and Graeme Swann. They are concerned they have no specialist
back-up and could fly in James Tredwell or turn to Lancashire’s slow
left-armer Simon Kerrigan, who took four wickets for the Lions on
Tuesday.

Stuart Broad form an issue for England, says David Saker

Broad's form has become an 'issue' for England, admits bowling coach Saker as Finn returns to action

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UPDATED:

10:11 GMT, 27 November 2012

Wicketless: Broad has struggled in India

Wicketless: Broad has struggled in India

England have admitted they have ‘an issue’ with Stuart Broad and may consider dropping their vice-captain for the crucial third Test in Kolkata next week.

Broad – who was hit by illness during the second Test as exclusively revealed by Sportsmail on Friday night – had a match to forget here in Mumbai as England pulled off an historic victory to level the series against India, bowling 12 wicketless overs for 60 runs in the first innings and not even being called on in the second.

Now, with Steven Finn returning to action on Monday for the England Performance Squad in their match here in Mumbai, Broad’s place is in question even though he has been one of their principal performers over the last few years.

‘There’s a little bit of an issue with Broad, there’s no doubt it,’ David Saker, the England fast bowling coach, told Sky TV here this morning. ‘He hasn’t bowled as we would have liked and he would be the first to admit that.

Vice-captain: Broad is second in command for EnglandVice-captain: Broad is second in command for England

Vice-captain: Broad is second in command for England

‘He’s not the first fast bowler to come over here and find it hard but the great fast bowlers have had success over here. Stuart is probably not a great yet but he has to learn ways to become great. It’s a great learning curve for him.

‘If he gets the next Test he will have to be ready for it. During my tenure as bowling coach I haven’t had too many players down on confidence and form. This is when I have to come to the party. I hope I can do stuff over the next few days that can help.’

With Tim Bresnan struggling in the first Test in Ahmedabad and being dropped for the second, Broad’s inclusion at Eden Gardens will probably come down to whether Finn has recovered from the thigh injury he suffered in the field in England’s first warm-up game here.

Knocking on the door: Finn plays for the Performance Squad this week

Knocking on the door: Finn plays for the Performance Squad this week

‘We’ve got our fingers crossed he’ll come through,’ said Saker. ‘If he gets through this game unscathed his name will definitely be up for selection next week.’

‘Finn has got that x-factor, a bit of pace, that height that always means you can get variable bounce over here. So his name will be bandied around for sure for that second seamer’s spot.’

Nasser Hussain: Alastair Cook must think on his feet now that the pressure is on

Captain Cook must think on his feet now that the pressure is on

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UPDATED:

22:45 GMT, 21 November 2012

There clearly isn't much Alastair Cook needs to learn about batting in India, as his total of 217 runs in the Ahmedabad Test proved.

But while he comfortably outscored his opposite number MS Dhoni, he could certainly have learned a thing or two from him about the art of captaincy in that part of the world.

I am not saying that it's easy for a boy from Bedford School to adapt to conditions that are as far removed from England as you can imagine.

Crunch time: Alastair Cook will be hoping for an improved performance in the second Test

Crunch time: Alastair Cook will be hoping for an improved performance in the second Test

But, basically, Cook needs to be less English in his approach. Back home, captains can rotate their seamers until tea in the knowledge that the Dukes ball will remain hard and the quicker bowlers will always be in the game.

But in India, the seamers are often at their most dangerous when the ball is older and reverse-swinging.

Sometimes, the new ball does absolutely nothing. On the first morning at Ahmedabad, Cook (right) didn't realise the danger quickly enough, and by the time Graeme Swann came on to bowl, Virender Sehwag had already got India off to a flyer.

Contrast that with Dhoni, who opened the bowling with his off-spinner Ravi Ashwin. In India, it's crucial that players think on their feet.

If it's clear from the first over that there's no bounce for the seamers, try the spinner.

Adapt: Sportsmail's Nasser Hussain believes Cook should take a 'less English' approach

Adapt: Sportsmail's Nasser Hussain believes Cook should take a 'less English' approach

Zaheer Khan bowled only two overs out of the first 40 in England's second innings. And that's because Dhoni was adapting to the conditions.

Cook's bowlers have to help him out, too. Line and length might work on greentops, but it was noticeable how much more effective Zaheer and Umesh Yadav were when they pitched the ball up, aiming yorkers at the stumps.

These are early days for Cook, who has already done the most important thing as captain, which is to lead from the front with the bat.

But now he needs to show some inspiration as a leader in the field, too.