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Minority Report


That's the series effectively over, so here's the 'end of term' reports.

Cook - It may not just be coincidence that the two batsmen who scored first innings 50's and therefore, in their own minds, cemented their places in the Oval line up, were the two who played the most brainless shots second time around.

Sir Geoffrey is probably one of the most irritating people on the face of the earth (a Yorkshire friend of mine says, happily, that it goes with the territory...) but he probably sold his wicket more expensively than any other English batsmen since the war. Mix that with an insaitable desire for runs that bordered on the downright selfish, and you have the blueprint for exactly what England need now. Cook could well do with sitting down with Boycott for a long chat. He'll come out wanting to punch something, but if he learns lessons like cutting out high percentage shots, setting yourself to bat all day for a hundred and simple accumulation, then it will have been well worthwhile.

Strauss - He's probably looking more at Vaughan's scores than his own - though, cynically, he could probably do with one decent score around 80 to cement his place for the winter. As the next England captain, he's really just waiting for the call - which could be around eight days away.

Vaughan - It's an awful position to be in, but he needs to start asking himself whether he's giving the side more than he's taking away. If he does go, or is pushed, it'll be incredibly sad because there's no one you'd rather lead England next summer. But England can't afford to carry a passenger.

Pietersen - The one World Class batsman we have, and proves it time after time. South Africa was always going to be a bigger challenge than anyone else (winter after next is the next big date in the diary) so there's no reason no to expect masses of runs in the next twelve months - which is handy because without a change of selectors he's going to be surrounded by roughly the same cast.

Bell - Is probably calculating how long the 199 will keep him his place in the side. 'Not much longer' should be the answer.

Collingwood - I haven't felt more pleased for an England batsman for years - and actually gave him a round of applause from the safety of the living room! Hopefully that's the monkey off his back. When you consider the circumstances and what had gone before, his six to go to a hundred was probably one of the most extraordinary shots ever hit by an England batsman.

Ambrose - Seems to have decided that he's going to concentrate on crease occupation rather than accumulation or flashy shots. If that's the way it's going to be, then that's fine - 90 minutes for 15 is ok as long as it becomes the norm. If England know that, they can build around it. Too many England keepers have been sacrificed on the altar of 'Gilchrist'- Ambrose is setting the bar slightly lower. Pretty safe behind the sticks too.

Fred - Batting is getting there, bowling is already there - but needs some support from bowlers who can take wickets on good pitches without helpful conditions... otherwise he'll be in a wheelchair by next April.

Anderson - See above. Maddeningly inconsistent. If the ball isn't do anything he seems to turn into a cafeteria.

Sidebottom - Patently unfit for the last test. Badly needs a rest and will probably get it.

Panesar - I might have asked this before, but am I really the only one getting bored with the whole Monty-shtik now? Yes, he's still the best spin bowler we have, but he's really not quite as good (yet) as a lot of people think he is. There's far too little variety in his bowling when he's trying to take wickets, and good batsmen (Smith yesterday) can knock him off his stride far too easily. If Cook is going to have a word with Boycott, then Monty might like a chat with Shane Warne.

(Click here to know more about Mark)

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