Tag Archives: duffer

Lawrence Booth: England were dominant but India took their eye off the ball

Lawrence Booth: England were dominant but India took their eye off the ball

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UPDATED:

10:47 GMT, 17 December 2012

In the end, it was easy. If you’d told England supporters after the first-innings debacles at Ahmedabad with ball and bat that their team could afford to block out the final five sessions of the fourth Test to make sure of a series win for the annals, they would have asked what you were on and where they could get some.

But in providing the ballast for England’s series-clinching 352 for 4, Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell – the two centurions from Warwickshire – merely underlined the momentum shift that has played itself out over the past few weeks.

Dominant at Ahmedabad, India got cocky. MS Dhoni started asking for pitches designed for the sole purpose of humiliating England and wreaking revenge for 2011. They did what no cricketer should ever do: they took their eye off the ball.

Leading from the front: England captain Alastair Cook was dominant with the bat

Leading from the front: England captain Alastair Cook was dominant with the bat

England, meanwhile, were fortified by events in the second half of the first Test. Alastair Cook, a colossus in this series until he was defeated in Nagpur by negative bowling, a duffer of a pitch and the umpiring of Kumar Dharmasena, made 176 and Matt Prior 91. India’s spinners, it turned out, were no Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman or Rangana Herath.

It helped that England picked the right team in Mumbai. In came Monty Panesar for Tim Bresnan, and a pitch of pace and bounce played right into their hands – for the inclusion of Panesar, with his extra pace, meant England now possessed the superior spin attack.

In a spin: England's spin bowlers of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar out performed the Indian spinners

In a spin: England's spin bowlers of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar out performed the Indian spinners

It helped that Kevin Pietersen had a post-reintegration point to prove. For attacking intent, only Virender Sehwag’s opening-day century at Ahmedabad could even begin to live with Pietersen’s 186 at the Wankhede.

Batting for glory: Jonathan Trott was able to bat for the majority of the final day to see England home to the draw they needed in the final Test

Batting for glory: Jonathan Trott was able to bat for the majority of the final day to see England home to the draw they needed in the final Test

And it helped that Cook, having told his players that – when it came to fluffing their lines against spin in Asia – enough was enough, was a captain on a mission.

At Kolkata, Jimmy Anderson joined in the fun, finding reverse-swing that proved beyond his Indian counterparts, and combining with Steven Finn on the third afternoon in another game where the nature of the pitch had proved a pre-match distraction for the Indians.

And at Nagpur, England won an important toss – at last! – and so were able to keep control of their destiny on a pitch that ensured the fourth Test was played in slow motion. Joe Root proved an inspired pick, and Anderson was outstanding once more, especially on the third evening, when India’s hopes of a big first-innings lead evaporated in an hour.

For many reasons, this must rank as one of England’s finest series wins – home or away. They arrived with a reputation as poor players of spin in Asian conditions, and with the Pietersen saga still a tangible undercurrent.

They had a new captain, who could have been granted a tougher assignment for his first series as full-time leader. They were up against a team that had lost only four series at home out of 40. And they were written off after the first Test.

At least in Australia two years ago they arrived with hope and a little expectation. Here, victory has been a bolt from the blue. At the end of a wondrous year for British sport, the cricketers have finally joined in.

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Kevin Kilbane: Robbie Keane and Co shouldn"t rush into retirement

Keane and Co shouldn't rush into retirement… Ireland still needs them

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UPDATED:

23:02 GMT, 20 June 2012

Watching the lap of honour in Poznan on Monday night, I couldn't help but feel it was the end of an era for Irish football. But even after speaking to the lads, texting and calling them, I don't know if we have seen the last of Robbie, Duffer, Dunny and Shay.

I'm not 100 per cent sure they do either yet. For what it's worth, I have told all four of them to take their time and not rush into it and make a hasty decision they might regret.

It's right they are allowed to do that. I still believe the Ireland team needs them and they are good enough to play international football and will bring something to the squad.

End of an era: Have Keane and Duff played their last games for Ireland

End of an era: Have Keane and Duff played their last games for Ireland

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Hopefully after they've recharged the batteries, and their minds, they will be available to Giovanni Trapattoni in September.

It does look like Trap will still be the manager when the new campaign starts in the autumn and he too has probably earned that right. It was an unbelievable achievement to qualify for the finals, and he should take the credit for that.

Although the performances and results were disappointing, particularly in the first two games, we shouldn't lose sight of who we were playing, and the options available to the manager.

I left Poland for Belfast this week to complete my UEFA A licence, and whenever you go on these courses, the name Giovanni Trapattoni is up there with the greats like Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho.

Animated: Trap will lead Ireland into their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign

Animated: Trap will lead Ireland into their 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign

What he has achieved in the game has rightly earned him respect and he is still relevant. What he does is not rocket science and it is doing the little things, taking care of the small details which is probably his greatest strength.

I can't deny there can be a communication barrier and when he first took the job Liam Brady played an important role because he was the go-between who would relay messages and help in the team meetings.

Now on the training ground he will drag you into different positions so on match day, he believes he has done his bit. He is calm around the dressing room before a game, says very little, just repeats his little messages, and even at half-time he will probably only speak for 30 seconds and then leave the players to get on with it.

Plenty to ponder: Given is considering his international future

Plenty to ponder: Given is considering his international future

It is very unusual for a manager I've known, but that's the way he is and the way he has done it throughout his career.

I don't see any of that changing on the basis of three bad results against three world class teams. But I read Mick McCarthy's comments about the negativity around his reign after the World Cup in 2002 and I do worry that if we get off to a bad start for the World Cup qualifiers, and the campaign is virtually over in October, and the fans turn, that he won't be able to recover from that.

With Germany, Sweden and Austria, it will be another major achievement to make the finals in Brazil, but I still believe we can do it. And as much as I hope the four lads stay, it is time for the likes of James McCarthy to step up and take Ireland into a new era.

We have talked about him for long enough now. I watched Wigan a lot last season and James had an excellent season and will be looking to build on that this year.

If Trap is prepared to play him, he has the ability to be the main man in midfield for Ireland and September would be the ideal time to see that happen.

The highlight of the finals for me was the national anthem before the Croatia game. It was my first as a media spectator, pretty tough because I wasn't on the pitch, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, tears welled up in my eyes.

But the performance of the three games was Andres Iniesta. As painful as it was to see him cause so much damage, it was the greatest individual performance I have witnessed as a football fan.

've seen him on TV of course but seeing his pace, movement, the way he glided round the pitch, the graceful way he wriggled out of difficulty was just a joy to watch. If there was one reason I was quite glad to be high up in the stands with my earphones on, it was him.

As I met Mick McCarthy in Poznan airport on Tuesday morning, before our flights back to Heathrow via Warsaw, the bodies of Trap's Green Army were strewn everywhere.

And amid the sleepers, the drinkers and the shell-shocked supporters, there were still smiles and laughs and songs. They always say a tournament is poorer without Ireland. And it's the fans who made the trip to Poland who showed all of Europe why. They were magnificent.