Quack, Quack!

As I prophesied England has lost the third test and their grip on the Ashes, being beaten by a quality Australian side in three straight tests. I have no grumbles about the Aussies winning the Ashes, they played excellent cricket and England underperformed badly. But the main blame for England’s lacklustre performance was the poor squad selection by Duncan Fletcher and the selectors. Why they played Geraint Jones over Chris Read baffles me, dropped catches and a pair of ducks in the third test, he simply can’t hack the pressure of international cricket. And why on Earth did they play Ashley Giles over Monty Panesar, Giles is seriously out of form and Panesar came in and claimed 8 wickets, five of which were in the first innings of the third test, why on Earth wasn’t he an automatic choice?

So a breakdown of the third test, England started well bowling out Australia for 244 runs, but failed to capitalise on the Aussies uncharacteristic poor showing only managing 215 runs in reply, so another golden opportunity goes begging. Australia made no such mistake in their second innings scoring 527 runs, with big centuries from Hussey, Clark and an amazing knock from Gilchrist scoring 100 runs from 59 deliveries narrowly missing the world record. England had a world record 557 run chase to take the game; there was some hope that England could get something from the test after the fourth day but too late wickets tarnished those chances. England had two potential big score makers still at the crease at the start of day five, but after Flintoff got caught out by an excellent Shane Warne delivery the writing was on the wall as the absolutely useless Geraint Jones took up strike only to fall to his second duck of the test. The game was won just after lunch time when the final wicket of Panesar fell for a total 350, 207 runs short of the 557 run target! I even have some criticism of Kevin Pietersen who failed to protect the incoming lower order, taking pointless singles and putting the new batsman in the firing line of Shane Warne and Glen McGrath to which they had no answer to. I know that the game was already lost, but protecting himself at the expense of the lower order players is unacceptable!

So in conclusion of the whole Ashes defeat, frankly England have seriously underperformed and poor selections have compounded the issues. I think that Andrew Flintoff has underperformed and should step back from the captaincy, I feel he plays better without the extra responsibility. The only thing left for England to do is avoid a humiliating 5 – 0 whitewash, which will require some serious changes to the lineup, as I don’t see England beating Australia with players like Geraint Jones who is useless with the bat and not much use with the glove either! A massively disappointing series for all English fans!

Not much joy in the football either at least not for Plymouth Argyle who were beaten comprehensively by promotion chasing Preston North End. The home team opened the scoring in the 12th minute, and doubled that lead five minutes before half time, the finally killed off Plymouth in the 53rd minute to lead Argyle 3 – 0. Even the normally upbeat Ian Holloway was disappointed with the performance stating “We can’t get away with one or two bad performances”, and praised the Preston work ethic. I have no complaints, Preston were the better team, plain and simple, Plymouth have been disappointing recently, especially after the bright start to the season, but that’s part and parcel of being an Argyle fan!

Liverpool made a better fist of things beating Charlton Athletic 0 – 3 at The Valley. Xabi Alonso opened the scoring in the 3rd minute from the Penalty spot after a high tackle on Jermaine Pennant. Liverpool had plenty of squandered chances and the scoreline flattered the home team, Liverpool had to wait until the 82nd minute for their second goal with an excellent volley from Craig Bellamy and Stevie Gerrard made it 0 – 3 in the 88th minute with a superb curling shot from 12 yards out. The Reds have now moved up to 3rd in the league 11 points off second placed Chelsea, so it looks like things are finally going right for The Reds, albeit a little late for a title challenge, too far behind the leaders now!

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