Stop whinging, Poms!
Dave Fulton has a few thoughts on all the furore about Aussies playing county cricket before the Ashes.
Last Updated: 18/08/09 5:07pm
It would appear that everyone seems to be getting their knickers in a twist about Stuart Clark and Phil Hughes playing county cricket ahead of the Ashes. Can we all relax, please?
The Aussies are scoring all kinds of psychological points not because we're welcoming them into the bosom of our domestic game, but because we're so bothered about it.
Shane Warne and Brad Hodge played county cricket in 2005 as did Shane Watson, Andrew Symonds and Clark, who were ready to fill any vacancies in the original squad. Did we moan or whinge? No, we concentrated on playing good aggressive cricket and whipped their backsides.
If I was in charge of the England team I'd be making positive noises about Middlesex signing Hughes (regardless of what I actually thought). He is an unknown quantity with an unorthodox style, who has made a great start to his Test career scoring a century in each innings of his second Test in Durban.
South Africa have struggled to contain him because they have not known where to bowl to him.
Let's not focus on the negative of him familiarising himself with English conditions, but the positive: we have a gilt edged opportunity to work out his game and how best to bowl at him.
He's so strong through the off-side let's attack him on middle stump; the short ball needs to be directed over the top of leg stump because he likes to stay leg side. If the county attacks find a way then he could be mentally shot before the start of the Ashes.
As for Clark - and speaking as a former Kent man - I'd like to see him win some games for his new county before Rob Key bowls him 20 overs straight to induce a back spasm. Just as Australia think he's back to his dependable best he gets injured - no problem.
England have played into Australian hands by making an issue of it all. Tim Nielsen, the Australian coach, has been rubbing his hands. He said it's good to hear England 'bleating' already.
Come on lads, we might not be playing very good cricket but we shouldn't be showing our mental vulnerability.
It's a argument, anyway. New Zealand allowed Andrew Strauss and Jimmy Anderson a first-class path back to form ahead of the Test series there last year, while England players have cut their teeth in Australian grade cricket for decades.
Angus Fraser benefitted from Australian club cricket in 1994-95 before being drafted in to the England squad when it was beset by injuries.
So please: no more 'Whinging Poms'.
We have enough to be concerned about trying to win some matches in the Caribbean. The best preparation for the Ashes is not to be talking about it but to rediscover the winning habit.
There are still five one-day internationals in the West Indies before a return two-match series against Chris Gayle's side, and then the World Twenty20 - all ahead of the summer's main event.
If we remember anything from 2005 it ought to be the way the guys were mentally aggressive. At the moment we're in danger of reverting to type.