Kicking the habit

Individuals must step up in absence of Flintoff and Pietersen

I'd rather see them sitting back with a cup of tea than charging around with a football.

Nasser Hussain
Quotes of the week

    England v Australia
    One-day international

    12.30pm, Fri, Sky Sports 1 & HD1

It seems obvious to me that kicking a football around and diving into tackles before a one-day international is not a particularly clever idea.

When I was captain I always tried to keep warm-ups to a minimum. I'm not even a fan of running around cones before a match; in my opinion that wastes far too much energy before a game of cricket.

I'm from the old school. Cricketers do enough work throughout the week to be able to turn up to a ground, do a few warm-ups and get their mind right before taking to the field. I'd rather see them sitting back with a cup of tea than charging around with a football.

The players get to the ground at 8.30am for an 11am start and I have always believed they do far too much, that's why we banned football when I was captain.

Yes, the players love doing it and for many of them it is the highlight of their day before the serious stuff begins, but unfortunately there is a lot of serious stuff involved with being an international cricketer.

If we keep getting injuries like we saw with Joe Denly on Thursday morning then it's a no-brainer. You simply shouldn't play football.


That injury is a massive, massive blow. When you get a knee injury it usually stays with you for the rest of your career, as we've seen with Andrew Flintoff, Michael Vaughan and Mark Butcher.

For somebody who has played all his life to get to a 50-over game against Australia on a good pitch at The Oval, it's a huge shame for Denly. Let's hope it's not too serious and he can play some part later in the series, but it desn't look good.

Obviously Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff have been ruled out of this series, as we've known for some time, and people are questioning how the team will perform without them.

England managed to play for major parts of the Ashes without those two, so I don't think they rely completely on them, but there's no doubt they are a significant part of the England set-up.

I do think both teams look a little short of batting; while there's no Pietersen of Flintoff for England, there's no Ricky Ponting or Brad Haddin for Australia. That perhaps leaves both sides a batsman short.

England will miss Flintoff with the ball, as they will miss Pietersen with the bat, but there is an opportunity for the likes of Eoin Morgan, Owais Shah and Luke Wright to stake a claim for the winter.


We must not treat this series as simply a chance to look at the emerging players; this series is about winning and that must always be the case when you are playing for England.

But for certain individuals, one eye is going to be on earning selection for South Africa, both for the Test team and the one-day team. Plus there's the Champions Trophy and the one-dayers in Sri Lanka to think about.

I've always said we can compete with anyone at Test match cricket, but we still have some way to go in the one-day arena. This is an opportunity for some of those guys to show us what they can do.

Everyone will be focusing on Bopara after his struggles in the Ashes, but he has a great chance at the top of the order on a good pitch. He will be low on confidence, but he has to remember that a year ago he'd have given his right arm to open the batting for England at The Oval.

He mustn't look at the negatives. A couple of weeks ago he was getting a double hundred for Essex and two months ago he was celebrating three hundreds in a row for England. He must draw belief from that.

It won't be easy because Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Bracken are three very fine one-day bowlers, but if Bopara can get over that new-ball burst I think he'll be fine.


Paul Collingwood needs to get some runs as well. He's had a quiet couple of months since Cardiff and he needs to find some form before Kevin Pietersen comes back into the team.

However, he has a good one-day record, he's a fantastic fielder and I think he offers a lot with the ball. He's underused as a bolwer and I still believe he has a massive role to play - but his first job is to get runs.

Collingwood, and the rest of the Ashes side, need to make sure they are mentally tough. The likes of Andrew Strauss, Graeme Swann, Stuart Broad and James Anderson may find it difficult to get through seven one-dayers after all of the hype of the Test series.

There is a massive amount of one-day cricket to play and the Ashes will have taken a lot out of them mentally, but they've got to realise there is still work to do.

Australia will come at them hard, they won't want to go home having lost the one-day series as well as the Ashes, and they must realise that this series is important.

To be honest, I think the two sides are pretty evenly matched. Both are short of a batsman, but if England get runs I think they've got a great opportunity. Australia's bowling line-up is stronger than their batting, so if England can get the first bit right we should be in for a cracking series.

My prediction? There's a lot to play for and right now I can't separate the teams. I'll go for 3-3 with one rain game!

Comments (9)

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Chris Duckett says...

Nasser you have been around the cricket scene for many years can you shed any light on the situation with Shah when he is at the crease he makes me nervous let alone his batting partner does he have a nervous affliction he is either running himself out or standing on his stumps or running his partner out why oh why do the selectors keep picking him his record is below average he cant bowl or field But I suppose with all those attributes the selectors are bound to pick him !!!!!!

Posted 21:06 7th September 2009

Simon Curtis says...

Well done Shah! Not only is he not good enough at the higher level, but managed to take out the player who just might have given the side a decent balance.

Posted 11:46 7th September 2009

Martin Smith says...

The attacks on Ravi bopara are unjustified as he was one of the stars of the IPL, far outflanking the performance of KP and Freddie, he justs needs to be given the confidence that he is THE man, three hundreds in 3 test matches is not a fluke. I think a major problem is with James Anderson, when he is hot, is is the best bowler on the planet, at the moment, he is not and is being hit all over the ground. Maybe a rest will do him good For the future, Rashid should play every game like Stuart Broad was, we know he is gonna be a star so give him a go. BUT the major problem is at the moment, who is gonna hit a big score, nobody looks like it and we are 2-0 down. Views please.

Posted 00:16 7th September 2009

Colin Powerplay says...

Why do England never want to take the batting power play, we were well on top today, if we had taken it when Wright or Swann were in we would have been in a great position. They say on sky that they may have been frightened of losing wickets so early if they took it when Wright was in. Well they still lost wickets but for very few runs. Swann was wanting to hit it over the field but found this hard as they were all out the circle. Then we commit suicide by using it when Anderson is in. At this point we would have been better not using it as Anderson would have wanted to knock the odd one here and there to give the strike to Collingwood. Unless the England management get the power plays right, we will always be a second rate team.

Posted 18:08 6th September 2009

Mike Ford says...

I cannot see why we are opening with Bopara and why is Bresnan deemed an England prospect ? Another bits and pieces county player at most.The middle order messed up Fridays game and they look as though they will do it again today unless Collingwood saves the day. Shah cannot judge a run and I hope he never has to run across the road for a bus ! Bopara needs to come down the order so he "loosens" up a bit. We really miss KP don't we ? Freddie looks as though he has had it but I hope not. Strauss, Key, Trott, Bopara, Prior, Collingwood, Wright, Rashid, Broad, Sidebottom,Anderson for now....

Posted 17:37 6th September 2009

David Neale says...

Nass, with you on the football nonsense. The one day side is an enigma. Throughout the 1990's we were a dreadful test side and could beat anyone over 50 overs. The players that have been tried from when you were captain to present day is frightening. We all have our favourites and opinions on who should be in the side but Ed Joyce would open every time for me as he is one of the few batsmen (in the line of a Nick knight) who could bat 50 overs and finish 120 not out. There is a nucleus of players who we should stick with- Rashid, Broad, Prior, Swann etc Wright opened in the T20 and had a few exiting knocks, he hits a long ball, Prior can change the course of a match in 10 overs , these strokemakers should play around a Strauss and a Joyce who can keep the scoreboard ticking and rotate the strike. I still fancy us for the series as the Aussies looked competant but beatable

Posted 21:25 5th September 2009

Lee Bartle says...

My ODI team for england would be Strauss Denly Kevin Peitersen ( If he's not there, then Rob Key ) Prior Flintoff ( If he's not there, Then Bopara ) Napier Wright Rashid Broad Sidebottom or Onions Anderson I think having a batting line up to 9 is important in ODI's and having Rashid and Broad coming in at 8 and 9 would be a great insurance if the top order don't score alot.

Posted 14:13 5th September 2009

Keith Alvey says...

At the game and hugely disappointed at the lack of England's professionalism and quite frankly lack of talent. Ravi Bopara needs to be rested, it is obvious that his mind is not fully on the game after his problems in the tests. His innings yesterday was painful to watch and his inability to find the gaps, not just him, led directly to unnecessary pressure on himself and later batsmen. I must have seen 65/70 attacking shots or attacking pushes go staight to one of the 4 Australian fielders in the circle, it actually makes me angry even now to think about it. Please expain why Trott is good enough for a test match, good enough for 20/20, but not good enough for ODI cricket. The lack of class in England's batting line up was frightening. If you are going to play Luke Wright, it must be as an attacking opening batsmen who will make full use of of the early fielding restrictions. Come on Mr Flower, it is not rocket science. Finally, when are we going to play international cricketers who know the difference between hitting and slogging. These guys can spend their entire lives playing cricket and supposedly perfecting their techniques and I kept seeing shots that would not have been out of place in a Sunday 2's game. On the positive side, the bowling and fielding was pretty good and Matt Prior's keeping continues to improve.

Posted 13:53 5th September 2009

Arjun Nanavati says...

Paul Collingwood is a good odi player, one of england's best actually. But he is a shocking test player, no technique and no talent, he should be dropped immediately just like gollum dropped samwises elven bread in lotrrotk!! Maybe one day england will see sense and drop this laughable player in test cricket

Posted 10:03 5th September 2009

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