Ashes 2013: Four talking points as England retain the urn
Ashes 2013: Harry Kemble looks at four talking points from the drawn Test at Old Trafford which saw England retain their urn
KP and the media
Since last summer’s textgate saga, Kevin Pietersen has barely spoken to the British written media. During the ODI leg of England’s tour of India in January, Pietersen did not field questions once from the press corps throughout the three-week tour. England’s back-up spinner James Tredwell was put up three times, instead. So why does the ECB communications team often overlook England’s old poster boy? Are the wounds still too raw from last year’s debacle or, more simply, doesn’t KP fancy it? It is customary after a good performance for the player to speak to all sections of the media. So after scoring 113 in the third Ashes Test (and surpassing the Test century tallies of Wally Hammond, Colin Cowdrey and Geoff Boycott), Pietersen was invited to speak to the media but woe betide anyone who actually asked him a question. Sat with his hands guarding his mouth as if trying to stop the words from surfacing, he gave short curt responses to a sequence of harmless questions on England’s position in the match and his own wonderful knock, which had kept his side in touch with Australia’s 527 for seven declared. It was all very peculiar; he quite simply didn’t want to be there. At 33 and with the IPL very much at the forefront of Pietersen’s mind, it sadly means he will never regain his enthusiasm for the media spotlight in this country. However, just as we’ve lost ‘Kevin the poster boy’, we’ve gained a mature batsman, who can quickly read a match situation just as his 23rd Test hundred showed on Saturday. Well played, Kev.
David Warner – the Pantomime Villain
Old Trafford 2013 will not just be remembered for where England retained the Ashes. It will also be known for David Warner’s international return after being banned for launching “an unprovoked attack” on Joe Root. Warner was subjected to jeers both times he walked out to bat. To cap it off, Warner was out “hooking” to none other than Root on the fence in the second innings. “Out of all the people to hit it to, I hooked another to ‘Rooty’,” said a jocular Warner afterwards. It was clear to see that despite the humour, Warner has certainly learnt his lesson. He is one of Australia most-gifted players, but he must now fulfil his obvious potential. His career is at a crossroads but in a struggling Aussie side, he could prove the mainstay of the batting for years to come. Few batsmen replicate the great Matt Hayden quite like Warner does when opening the batting.
The Decision Review System has detracted from the cricket at times in this series. Neither a day nor a session goes past without issues with DRS arising. Little wonder the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refuse point blankly to use it. Although DRS is here to stay (it would be a massive step back if the sport shunned technology all together), the ICC must sit down and have a thorough rethink about it. For starters, it is ludicrous that ‘Hot Spot’ – used to determine if the ball has touched the bat – does not pick up every nick. According to its creators, Hot Spot only picks up 99 per cent of nicks. If it is not full proof, then these issues will continue. One possible solution would be to continue with Hot Spot but allow ‘Snicko’ to be used alongside it. Snicko is currently only used by the TV media and cannot be seen by the third umpire. The device graphically analyses the sound as the ball goes past the edge of the bat. Any movement on the graph indicates the ball may have made contact with the bat. Both Hot Spot and Snicko being used to together would lead to a better decision from the off-the-field umpire, surely?
The task in hand for both teams
The fourth Test begins in Durham on Friday. This is one of four back-to-back Ashes Tests in seven months. Although Australia know they cannot win the series, they must continue to put down a marker for the next series Down Under, starting in November. Coach Darren Lehmann called for his side to win at least one of the remaining two matches. After putting in a vastly improved showing at Old Trafford from Lord’s, the Australians will have hope of maybe levelling the series before giving England a good game back home. For that to happen, though, their batting has to keep firing as it did in Manchester. Batting first and scoring five hundred plus put England under pressure from the beginning. The hosts, meanwhile, have brought in Graham Onions into the squad for the fourth Test. This has led to murmurs that star bowler Jimmy Anderson, who has bowled 128.5 overs in the series – second only to spinner Graeme Swann, may get a rest ahead for the next Test. England have long winter head of them and they would certainly need both Anderson and Swann, if they want to maintain their recent dominance over the Old Enemy.