Tag Archives: England

2015 Ashes Review

From the rapture of Cardiff, to the anti-climax at the Oval, the 2015 Ashes series was one of the strangest in recent memory, leaving both Australia and England with far more questions than answers.

It was the home side that regained the little urn, triumphing 3-2 courtesy of a trio of wins notable by their brevity. The tourists on the other hand destroyed England to achieve their two Test wins, ensuring that they dominated the batting averages as matters tumbled to a close.

In terms of days played it set a new low for a five match Ashes series, with only 18 of 25 utilised by two sides seemingly determined to throw caution to the wind from the offset.

 

Ending of Eras

It also closed the book on some notable careers, with Aussie skipper Michael Clarke announcing his retirement along with team-mates Ryan Harris and Chris Rogers.

England stalwart Ian Bell struggled, save for a defiant display at his home ground of Edgbaston, stating that he’ll make a decision of his own during the next week or so.

Ultimately the cricket wasn’t often sparkling, but in passages the likes of new Australia captain Steven Smith, Rogers, Joe Root and Stuart Broad rose above the mediocrity to place their imprint on the series.

England Player Ratings

Numbers
Alastair Cook (Captain): 7/10
Runs: 330, Average: 36.66

Cook led the side with more assurance than previously, displaying both innovation and purposeful intent. His batting was relatively consistent, although he failed to achieve his first century in a home Ashes contest, falling agonisingly close twice with scores of 96 and 85.

Adam Lyth: 2/10
Runs: 115, Average: 12.77

Dire. Looked every inch a player with an inflated County average achieved against gentle seam bowlers on batting friendly tracks. Far from international standard, at almost 28 Lyth should probably be consigned to the overflowing scrapheap of failed English opening batsmen, with Moeen Ali promoted instead.

Ian Bell: 5/10
Runs: 215, Average: 26.87

Warwickshire fans rejoiced when Bell struck a brace of half centuries on a testing surface at home ground Edgbaston, his elevation to number three seemingly spurring a renaissance. Sadly he reverted to previous form thereafter, necessitating some deep contemplation post-series for the only Englishman to have ever won five Ashes series.

Joe Root: 8/10
Runs: 460. Average: 57.50
Wickets: 4, Average: 33.75

England’s go-to Yorkie when chasing the winning line, Root had three exceptional matches in which he struck England’s only pair of hundreds, as well as two half-centuries and an unbeaten 38. With four wickets to boot, the 24 year-old Vice-Captain did show some fallibility in the face of tactical short bowling, but was a class above his country’s other batsmen.

Johnny Bairstow: 6/10
Runs: 118. Average: 29.50

Returned to the fold at Edgbaston following abundant form for Yorkshire. A belligerent 74 helped England to take advantage of skittling Australia out for just 60 at Trent Bridge. That knock aside he fielded soundly without being entirely assured at the crease. Deserves a prolonged run at this level.

Ben Stokes: 7/10
Runs: 201. Average: 25.12
Wickets: 11. Average: 33.45

The heir to Andrew Flintoff’s throne showed glimpses of undoubted potential, as well as providing the enduring image of Ashes cricket in 2015 with a barely believable one-handed catch taken when diving full length in the slips. Batting fizzled out over the course of the summer, with bowling by contrast becoming more consistent. Promising.

Jos Buttler: 5/10
Runs: 122. Average: 15.25
Dismissals: 12

Kept wicket without any issues, yet Buttler’s batting fell off a cliff, with his last ditch knock of 42 beefing a paltry average up towards the relative heights of the mid-teens. Will need to work on his defensive skills if he’s going to succeed in the longer format.

Moeen Ali: 7/10
Runs: 293. Average: 36.62
Wickets: 12. Average: 45.50

The experiment of utilising Moeen’s batting skills in the lower echelons of the line-up worked a treat, as he regularly contributed quickfire runs among the tail. His position as a front-line bowler is less secure though, with his left arm spin not a patch of opposition tweaker Nathan Lyon.

Stuart Broad: 8.5/10
Runs: 134. Average: 19.14
Wickets: 21. Average: 20.90

One of Broad’s finest summers as a Test bowler, he was consistently thrilling, peaking with a career-best 8-15 at Trent Bridge. His batting also improved significantly from recent efforts, with a willingness to tough it out against the opposition’s quicks commendable. Passed Fred Trueman’s 307 Test scalps, ending the series with 308 of his own.

Mark Wood: 7/10
Runs: 103. Average: 25.75
Wickets: 10. Average: 39.10

Appeared jaded early on, but became integral to England’s success. His fierce bowling lacks precision at times, but he has the talent and work ethic to become world class. Chipped in with useful runs and fielded superbly; a pleasing all-round contribution.

Jimmy Anderson: 8/10
Runs: 11. Average: 2.75
Wickets: 10. Average: 27.50

His spell of 6-47 at Edgbaston swung the momentum heavily in England’s favour, although he suffered a side strain in the same Test, missing the remaining couple of matches as a result. Looks back to somewhere approaching his best, and a target of 550 wickets at this level can’t be discounted.

Steven Finn: 7/10
Runs: 9. Average: N.A
Wickets: 12. Average: 22.50

After around 18 months in the international wilderness, Finn returned with one of the most potent displays of his entire career. At 26 years-old he looks to have finally found the consistent rhythm to succeed among the elite of world cricket.

Gary Ballance: 4/10
Runs: 98. Average: 24.50

Technical flaws exposed in the first two Test matches, Ballance, who had a fairytale first year in five day cricket, looked out of his depth in the two games he played, with only a scratchy 61 of note to show for his efforts. Will need to improve his sluggish footwork to fulfil undoubted potential.

So, we move on to the limited overs game. Can England continue the impressive form they showed against New Zealand earlier in the summer? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Ashes Spotlight: Broad Walk Empire

And so it came to pass that less than two months after being mocked and written off, Alastair Cook and his troops regained the Ashes during a Test match that lasted a little over two days, as Australia were undone by world-class swing bowling and poor shot selection.

Stuart Broad took the headlines, deservedly so, for his sensational spell on the first morning. The absence through injury of usual pack-leader Jimmy Anderson necessitated one of his underlings stepping-up, and the Nottinghamshire seamer was happy to oblige.

8 wickets for 15 runs in 9.3 Overs obliterated an Australian line-up seemingly perplexed by cloud cover induced seam movement that saw a procession of dismissals, and a pitiful final total of just 60 all-out.

Root Gains

England were batting before lunch on day one, Joe Root (130) and Johnny Bairstow (74) consolidating a powerful position, and Moeen Ali’s rapid 39 nudging the lead up to a daunting 330 runs.

Australia batted better second time round, assisted by England’s decline in the field, but Ben Stokes backed up an incredible, one-handed first innings pouch with career best figures of 6-36 to see the home side through early on day three, the eventual margin a gargantuan innings and 77 runs.

Records Tumble

Stokes was England’s fourth different bowler to take six or more wickets in the past four Test innings, the first occurrence of this in the history of the game. Stuart Broad’s 8-15 was the best single innings Test bowling recorded at Trent Bridge, and he leapt to 308 career dismissals to go past the great Fred Trueman.

In addition, Joe Root climbed to number one in the  world rankings, the first time he’s achieved the feat in his career.

All in all it’s been a wonderful summer for English cricket. The Ashes Test series concludes at the Oval, with the match scheduled for a Thursday start.

England player ratings

Barmy Army

Alastair Cook (Captain)
43 & DNB

The calls for his demotion have long since faded away. Alastair Cook; a leader reborn, a previously rearguard, meek skipper transformed into a blood lusting tiger.

His score of 43 was well made until he played around a straight, full one from Mitchell Starc. Despite moderate contributions with the willow throughout the Ashes, Cook’s excellence at the helm has re-invigorated the squad.

7/10

Adam Lyth
14 & DNB

The one continual blemish on an otherwise excellent series for England, Lyth currently resembles a badly wounded deer waiting to be put out of his misery.

A couple of eye-catching cover drives were followed by a plodding forward defensive, a tickle of an edge caught behind, and a lonely walk back to the pavilion – a pattern in keeping with Lyth’s Ashes career thus far. Time to cut losses, promote Moeen and bring Rashid in as a front-line spinner.

2/10

Ian Bell
1 & DNB

The ecstasy of Edgbaston made way for the turbulence of Trent Bridge, with Bell failing to build on the success he enjoyed at his home ground.

Despite the blip, his experience at number three gives England’s line-up a credibility long lacking, and although the talented Gary Ballance shouldn’t be written off, it is Bell who remains the best option in this most vital of positions.

1/10

Joe Root
130 & DNB

Took his tally for the series to 442 runs at an average of almost 74 with a defiant 130 that once again set him apart from every other batsman in the match.

The only potential long-term negative was the exacerbation of a long-standing back problem, which noticeably bothered Root in the latter stages of his innings, hopefully it’s something that won’t hinder his continued ascendency, sitting as he does at the summit of the Test batting rankings for the first time.

9/10

Masked Wrestler Cricket

Johnny Bairstow
74 & DNB

Probably secured his selection, at least for the short-term, with an attacking half century amassed in difficult circumstances.

Bairstow and Root’s positive intent is hopefully a sign of things to come from England’s eminently gifted middle order, although the former continues to desperately seek his first Test hundred, having already gained 16 caps.

7/10

Ben Stokes
5 & 6-36

The young all-rounder has already gained a reputation as something of a maverick match-winner, albeit usually with bat in hand. This time it was his divine bowling that dragged England over the line.

An inspired spell doused what had threatened to be a decent Aussie comeback, with Stokes finding levels of consistency previously not evident. His wonder-catch remains the abiding snap-shot of this one-sided contest.

8/10

Jos Buttler (Wicket-Keeper)
12 & DNB

Another tidy display behind the timbers, although Buttler’s dearth of runs has seen his average drop from the mid 50’s to the high 30’s during this series.

The fact that his place is not under pressure owes much to the obvious impromptu genius he possesses, as well as the afore mentioned glove-work.

5/10

Moeen Ali
39 & 0-34

His quick-fire knock of 39 shouldn’t deserves more than to be glossed over, dragging as it did any lingering Mitchell Starc generated momentum away from Australia by the manner in which it was scored.

The conditions weren’t conducive to spin bowling, with Moeen’s six overs going at almost a run-a-ball. Could find himself promoted from number eight to opening if Adil Rashid is blooded next week.

6/10

Barmy Army

Mark Wood
28 & 4-82 (1-13/3-69)

Replaced the injured Jimmy Anderson, and had a memorable match. Supported the rampant Broad in the first innings, and bowled with channelled aggression in the second.

His bludgeoning knock of 28, having come in as night-watchman, demoralised an already downbeat opposition bowling attack. Likely to make way if Anderson is declared fit for the Oval, and would be very unfortunate if that’s the case.

8/10

*Stuart Broad*
24* & 9-47 (8-15/1-32)

His spell on the first morning virtually secured the Ashes, with the overcast conditions perfectly exploited by a bowler who has found his best rhythm once again this summer.

Likewise, Broad’s batting is on the rise, and he made another handy contribution at Trent Bridge. Only ill-fortune stopped him from picking up another “5-fer” second time around, with ball regularly defeating bat without reward.

10/10

Steven Finn
0* & 1-63 (1-21/0-42)

One of the heroes of Edgbaston, Finn was altogether lower-key here, although one glorious in-swinger castled the dangerous Peter Nevill – the only Australian not dismissed via a catch in their debacle of a first innings.

England’s unexpected abundance of in-form quick bowlers could put Finn under immediate pressure, but he deserves a run in the side having seemingly rediscovered his rhythm after several years of strife.

5/10

Following this embarrassing turnover, Australia captain Michael Clarke announced that he will retire after the series, with around half a dozen other Australian players speculated to follow suit.

In the space of less than a couple of months Australia’s cricket world has collapsed, while England have rarely looked in ruder health. The Oval promises an inevitable England victory, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet!

A full review of England’s series will follow the Oval Test.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Ashes Watch: Finn-spirational England!

Win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win… Not the start of a hastily penned poem, but England’s results in their past seven Test matches.

Steven Finn

Following a 405-run stuffing at Lord’s, England’s selectors refrained from any major amendments, instead tweaking the batting line-up by replacing the out-of-sorts Gary Ballance with his very in-form Yorkshire colleague Johnny Bairstow, and promoting Ian Bell and Joe Root one place in the order.

One enforced change meant that the weary Mark Wood was rested, with Steven Finn given the latest opportunity of his frustratingly sporadic international career.

Fantastic Finn

The latter proved to be the catalyst for a three-day victory, with a second innings Test best bowling analysis of 6-79 ensuring that the home side only had to chase 121 to regain the lead in this intriguing, albeit error-strewn, series.

Equally uplifting were the return to form of Ian Bell on his home patch, Moeen’s continued consistency and Jimmy Anderson’s mesmeric first innings spell that resulted in an Ashes best-bowling return of 6-47, although a side strain rules him out of the fourth Test, meaning that England will turn to Stuart Broad to lead the attack.

Other than the injury to Anderson, the continued malaise of Adam Lyth becomes increasingly prevalent with each meek dismissal, and Jos Buttler could use a knock of substance to accompany his pristine glove-work.

England third Test ratings

Alastair Cook (Captain)
34 & 7

Batted with sublime precision until unfortunately lodging a lusty pull-shot straight into the ample bread-basket of a cowering Adam Voges for one of the more peculiar dismissals of his career.

Smartly rotated his attack, using Finn in brief bursts and setting attacking fields that proved too tempting for most of the Australian batsmen. Another failure in the second innings was outweighed by the aura of Cook’s newly found comfort in the lead role.

6/10 (Batting: 4/10, Captaincy: 8/10)

Adam Lyth
10 & 12

Two more failures for a player who is threatening to earn the “passenger” tag if he doesn’t step up at Trent Bridge next week.

A worrying trend of collapsing towards leg-stump continues to undermine a player with the capacity to fill a role that has been an English weakness since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012. Will have to produce soon with Alex Hales waiting patiently in the wings.

2/10

Ian Bell
53 & 65*

Edgbaston Test was widely reported as a last chance saloon for Bell, whose rotten sequence of scores had placed him under the spotlight, with a gaggle of younger players touted as replacements.

Ian Bell

Thankfully the veteran excelled during cap number 113, providing the glue in both innings, to eventually see England over the line on day three in front of his home crowd. Looked instantly at ease occupying the tricky slot at number three.

8/10

Joe Root
63 & 38*/ 0-7

Another whose promotion was a success, Root is England’s go-to player these days, and the Vice-Captain once again stepped up on a tricky surface with two more valuable contributions.

Plays with the freedom of an unburdened soul who relishes the heat of battle, as he continues to torment bowlers from all over the globe with his aesthetically alluring displays – none of whom have yet found a reliable solution.

8/10

Johnny Bairstow
5 & DNB

25 year-old’s recall arrived courtesy of majestic county form, where he’s been averaging more than 100 for Yorkshire this season, and can’t really be judged on this brief appearance.

A rip-snorter of a Mitchell Johnson bouncer did for the raven-haired middle order man, who had to be in good form just to nick it! Likely to be retained for the foreseeable future.

2/10

Ben Stokes
0 & DNB/ 1-28

Like Bairstow, Stokes received a brutal Johnson half-tracker that almost took his head off, so it’s difficult to be critical of that dismissal (it wasn’t like, say, jumping over the ball and being run-out!)

Ben Stokes

Only bowled 11 overs due to the excellence of the rest of England’s seam attack, but was on point and tidy throughout a prolonged spell that covered for Anderson’s absence on the third day.

4/10 (Batting: 1/10, Bowling: 7/10)

Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper)
9 & DNB

Took a couple of spectacular pouches behind the timbers, as his ‘keeping continues to excel in tricky circumstances.

That is fortunate in light of yet more uncertainty at the crease. A scratchy 38-ball knock of 9 can be partially justified by overcast conditions and a spicy track, but the cold hard facts are that Buttler has yet to contribute more than 27 in his five Ashes innings.

5/10 (Batting: 2/10, Wicket-Keeping: 8/10)

Moeen Ali
58 & 1-64

Time and again Moeen has frustrated his Aussie counterparts with quick-fire runs among the lower order, with some saying that his improvement against the short ball validates him as the best option to open alongside Cook.

His half-century propelled England’s lead from a reasonable 54 to a daunting 145, and he took the vital wicket of Mitchell Starc, who had threatened to make a match of it with a tail-end 50 of his own.

7/10 (Batting: 8/10, Bowling: 6/10)

Stuart Broad
31 & DNB /2-44 & 1-61

It’s a joy to see Broad batting well again, those handy contributions down the order had been sorely missed since breaking his nose in the summer of 2014, when India’s Varun Aaron squeezed a short ball betwixt helmet and grill.

As well as a responsibly compiled 31, Broad was the lesser of the trio of bowlers who tormented Australia in their first innings, and chipped in with another wicket second time round, although he’ll probably need to bowl even better in the absence of Anderson next week.

7/10 (Batting: 7/10, Bowling: 7/10)

*Steven Finn*
0* & DNB/ 2-38 & 6-79

What a recall! Finn could barely have wished for a more productive return to the Test fold. From the embryonic deliveries of an imposing first day burst, it was clear that the 6 foot 7 inch fast-bowler barely resembled the crest-fallen trundler who was sent home early from the 2013-14 series “down under”.

Then One-Day coach Ashley Giles had described him as “unselectable”, after this display he may be indispensable. At 26 years old the hope is that he has finally come of age, six years after he initially burst onto the international scene.

9/10

Jimmy Anderson
3 & DNB/ 6-47 & 1-15

Back to his very best, Anderson had the ball swinging both ways at close to 90mph, perplexing all of the Australian batsmen who became unsure whether to play or leave, resulting in the demise of half a dozen by the second morning.

Jimmy Anderson

The crowd relished this skilful exhibition from the king of swing, who also celebrated his 33rd birthday on day two of the match. The only downside was a side-strain that rules him out of the reckoning for Trent Bridge, although it’s hoped that he’ll recover in time for the climax at the Oval.

9/10

That’s more like it! England and Australia resume hostilities at Trent Bridge next week, but will we actually witness a match that makes it into the fifth day? As usual Kureen will be keeping an eye on the action!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Ashes Watch: Old wounds opened for England

England headed to Lord’s for the second Ashes Test match of the summer following an impressive 169-run victory in Cardiff, only to endure four days of turmoil at the hands of a vengeful Australian side.

Having won the coin toss Australia batted first on a docile track, racking up a score of 566 for 8 declared over the course of five destructive sessions, Steven Smith compiling a career best 215, and veteran Chris Rogers a Test high 173, the latter having been dropped early on by the hapless Adam Lyth.

Tough at the top

England’s response was almost immediately in tatters, four top order wickets tumbling in the face of some brutal fast bowling. Despite a decent recovery courtesy of captain Alastair Cook (96) and all-rounder Ben Stokes (87), England ended their innings more than 250 runs adrift.

Australia batted again, and once more the pitch seemed lifeless, England’s bowlers toiling under scoreboard pressure and against confident, skilled opponents.

Set a notional 512 to win, the home side were completely blown away this time, all out for a spineless 103, with Ben Stokes’ risible run-out (see video above) the nadir.

Repercussions

England’s selectors have retorted by ditching the out-of-sorts Gary Ballance and calling up the very in-form Johnny Bairstow to take his place.

In the past Bairstow has struggled to step up to the top table, but his County form, he averages more than 100 with the bat for Yorkshire this season, indicates that this is a young player very much in the ascendency.

For old hands like Ian Bell it’s probably now or never, with those in the know claiming that he must perform at his home ground of Edgbaston next week, or else face being discarded like a used tissue – the heat is on.

England second Test ratings

Alastair Cook (Captain)
96 & 11

One of the few home players to come out of the match with any credit. Cook showed plenty of fortitude to compile a painstaking 96 when all about him shouldered arms, the only pity is that he didn’t go on to make a deserved ton.

Alastair Cook

His captaincy wasn’t helped by a deliberately lifeless pitch which backfired spectacularly on England, failing to negate Australia’s quicker through the air attack, whilst blunting the likes of Mark Wood and Jimmy Anderson who rely predominantly on the pitch.

6.5/10 (7/10 batting, 6/10 captaincy)

Adam Lyth
0 & 7

In his most crippling nightmares Lyth wouldn’t have forecast anything this gloomy.

Not only did he drop two critical catches, he (briefly) batted without sense, appearing entirely out of his depth, like a toddler trying to negotiate Niagra Falls with the aid of a cheap float. Is fortunate to keep his place, probably saved by his century against New Zealand a couple of matches earlier.

1/10

Gary Ballance
23 & 14

After a golden inaugural year on the Test scene, Ballance has inevitably found life harder during his second summer of five-day cricket.

A weakness against the short ball has been remorselessly exposed by both New Zealand and Australia this summer, and whilst it may seem harsh for the Zimbabwe-born southpaw to be dropped ahead of Lyth or Bell, it could be a good idea to remove him from the firing line until he explores his technical flaws further.

3/10

Ian Bell
1 & 11

After 112 Test caps, Bell finds himself under arguably the most intense scrutiny of his career, and with good reason. Since amassing a belligerent 143 in the Caribbean,  the 33 year-old has managed just one score of more than 29 in a dozen innings.

Previous excellence has saved his bacon thus far, with a promotion to number three mooted for Edgbaston. Another failure could see the man famously dubbed “Sherminator” by Australia’s touring side a decade ago unceremoniously dumped back onto the county circuit.

1/10

Joe Root
1 & 17/2-55 & 0-32

Calls to promote Root to number three have so far fallen on deaf ears, but he was once again left to marshal the tail at the end of this match, trying to farm the strike in a vain attempt to delay the coffin being nailed shut.

Two failures with the bat for the in-form Vice-Captain, who had set Cardiff alight to strains of “Rooooot” a week earlier. His bowling continues to progress, but England will need him back to his best next week, with a promotion to number four on the cards.

4/10 (Batting: 2/10, Bowling 6/10)

Ben Stokes
87 & 0/0-77 & 0-20

After suffering a pasting with ball in hand, England’s all-rounder showcased his brutal batting ability, pummelling the three lions away from the ignominy of 30-4 on day two, as he and Cook combined for a fifth wicket stand of 145.

From there it was something of a match to forget, with Stokes’ comical second innings run-out (where he failed to ground his bat/anatomy despite being comfortably inside the crease) the enduring snap-shot of a lamentable collapse.

5/10 (Batting: 7/10, Bowling: 4/10, Daft run-out: -10/10)

Jos Buttler (Wicket-keeper)
13 & 11

Increasingly edgy at the crease, the effervescent Buttler of previous series has been replaced by a forlorn figure bereft of confidence, suffering a seemingly scrambled mindset every time he steps up to bat.

Buttler run out

Seemed unsure whether to attack or graft during England’s 2nd innings collapse, dismissed after a couple of unconvincing boundaries. The first real test of his international credentials. Did a decent job with the gloves.

3/10

Moeen Ali
39 & 0/ 1-138 & 2-78

The experiment of using Moeen, a batting all-rounder, as a front-line spinner who bats at number eight has thus far proven hit and miss. On one hand he continues to contribute useful runs from a lower order perspective, on the other he’s wasted amongst the tail and was comfortably out-bowled by opposing spinner Nathan Lyon.

An aesthetically pleasing 39 and the snaring of both Aussie wickets to fall in their second innings were positives, but Moeen went at almost 4.5 runs per over, lacking the control necessary in the context of the match.

5/10 (Batting: 5/10, Bowling: 5/10)

Stuart Broad
21 & 25/ 4-83 & 0-42

Broad, so often an Ashes pantomime villain in the past, actually has a decent record against Australia, and was one of only two touring players to leave the previous tour “down under” in credit.

This match was arguably a microcosm of that 2013-14 edition, with neat contributions throughout from the lofty Nottinghamshire paceman, including a defiant 25 which eked England beyond the 100 barrier as they toiled in the closing stages.

7/10 (Batting: 6/10, Bowling: 8/10)

Mark Wood
4 & 2*/ 1-92 & 0-39

The sparkle synonymous with the Durham seamer since his inclusion in the England side dimmed at Lord’s. Wood looked weary and uncertain, perhaps inevitable when considering the abundance of overs he’s slung down this summer.

The current recess arrived not a moment too soon for a bowler who leaves it all on the pitch every time he bowls. There’s no prospect of dropping a player destined to lead England’s attack in the future years, but nothing really went his way in a forgettable performance.

3/10

James Anderson
6* & 0/ 0-99 & 0-38

Not one of Jimmy’s finest matches, as England’s all-time leading wicket taker failed to add to his 406 Test scalps. In truth he never really looked a threat.

Jimmy Anderson

Will be desperate to find his lost rhythm before the teams line up at Edgbaston. Anderson is another whose position in the team is unlikely to come under immediate threat, but impotent displays in three of four summer Tests thus far have hinted that there might not be too much gas left in tank for a bowler who turns 33 on the opening day of next week’s encounter.

2/10

Can England bounce back next week after this humiliation? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. As usual we’ll give our ratings after the match.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Ashes 2015: 1st Test ratings/2nd Test preview

5-0

As usual Glenn McGrath was confident when predicting that Australia would see off their rivals with an unanswered quintet of Ashes Test wins.

Sadly for Glenn, this England team is far removed from the one that sunk “down under”, when Mitchell Johnson had opposing batsmen desecrating their whites as they tumbled like bowling pins in the face of 95mph deliveries aimed at their throats. It was a masterclass in intimidation.

 

The wait was worth it… so far

England have had to wait 18 months for their revenge, rebuilding a dispirited set-up in the process. Out have gone former blue-chippers Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann (who retired halfway through the whitewash.)

Instead England, replete with shiny new coaching staff, have taken a leaf from New Zealand’s book, placing emphasis on courageous youth to re-energise the group.

An emphatic 169-run victory in the first Test last week had almost all pundits rapidly re-evaluating the scene, Dom Kureen gives his ratings for each of the eleven who represented the Three Lions in Cardiff.

 

Player Ratings

 

Alastair Cook (Captain)
20 & 12

The intense pressure of leading his country has inevitably led to diminishing batting results from the 30 year-old, who was at one stage regarded as the premier opener in world cricket.

Another slightly disappointing batting display had attached to it the gargantuan caveat of Cook’s finest leadership to date. His inventive yet logical field placings and expert use of Moeen Ali were pivotal in the victory.

6.5/10 (4 for batting, 9 for captaincy.)

Adam Lyth
6 & 37

Yorkshireman looked at ease in his second innings knock of 37 before over embellishing to give his wicket away. 

Looks to have the technical ability and tenacity to eventually form an effective opening partnership with Cook, but needs to pick his spots rather than rely on adrenalin. Is learning how to cope at this level, but needs selectors to keep faith during what promises to be a steep curve.

5/10

Gary Ballance
61 & 0

Came into the series under media scrutiny for the first time in his embryonic Test career, his questionable technique against the short ball having been exposed by New Zealand earlier this summer.

A gritty, invaluable 61 was compiled despite the Zimbabwe born youngster’s patent lack of form, which is probably enough to keep him at number three for at least the next couple of matches.

6/10

Ian Bell
1 & 60

Another player who began the series under pressure, Bell was dismissed cheaply in the first innings, increasing the burden on the veteran’s shoulders as his strode out second time round earlier than he would have hoped.

A fluent 60 helped England to cruise from 22-2 to an eventual score of almost 300, effectively putting the match beyond Australia, and simultaneously re-emphasising Bell’s latterly found happy knack of chipping in when under fire.

6.5/10

*Joe Root*
134 & 60, 2-28

The undisputed man of the match and arguably the most exhilarating cricketing prospect on the planet. Root’s first innings century came at almost a run-a-ball, as England recovered from 43-3 to score 430. Aussie ‘keeper Brad Haddin stewing behind the stumps, having dropped the 24 year-old before he’d scored.

Joe RootA second innings half-century was followed up with two wickets at the tail-end of the fourth day. Root continues to leave a trail of dishevelled bowlers in his wake, while his spin bowling improves with each passing series.

9.5/10

Ben Stokes
52 & 42, 1-51 & 1-23

Batted with intent in both innings and bowled far better than his figures suggest. Stokes revels in playing Ashes cricket it seems, having stood out amid the chaos of England’s 5-0 reverse down under last time out.

Has certainly secured the number six spot for the foreseeable future; England’s faith in the Durham all-rounder justified after an extended sequence of imposing displays.

7/10

Jos Buttler (Wicket-Keeper)
27 & 7

England’s most innovative player kept wicket superbly throughout the match, placing opposite number Haddin firmly in the shade with his efficient, graceful glove work.

Buttler’s batting was disappointing, two cheap dismissals undermining his prodigious talent. As Geoffrey Boycott put it; “He’ll be very disappointed, he’s better than that!”

6/10 (4 for batting, 8 for wicket keeping)

Moeen Ali
77 & 15, 2-71 & 3-59

Targeted by more than one Australian bowler pre-series, Moeen batted formidably with the tail in the first innings in the face of some hostile pace rib-ticklers and bitter sledging.

His bowling was equally impressive, with an over-zealous baggy green middle order tempted, to their demise, by subtle variations in flight and pace. If Moeen lacked confidence beforehand he should be brimming with it heading to Lord’s after a top-notch all-round contribution.

8/10

Stuart Broad
18 & 4, 2-60 & 3-39

Prolonged rest, a result of England’s new one-day policy, seems to have given Broad time to find harmony in his bowling again, as he was almost 10 mph quicker here than during a fitful effort in the Caribbean earlier this year.

Stuart Broad

Charging in, Broad unsettled all of the Australian batsmen at one point or another, nipping five of them out in the process. His first innings partnership of 52 with Moeen helped England past 400, hopefully his previously handy lower-order batting continues to blossom as the series unfolds.

7.5/10

Mark Wood
7* & 32*, 2-66 & 2-53

A not so rough diamond, Wood was a bold selection during the New Zealand series, with his 90+ mph bowling and proficient tail-end batting an immediate hit with fans and team-mates alike.

That trend continued in Cardiff, with Wood expertly supporting the new ball pair of Broad and Anderson. His emphatic 32 not out from only 17 balls extracting the final gust of wind from Australia’s sails.

7/10

James Anderson
1 & 1, 3-43 & 0-33

England’s all-time leading wicket-taker made the new ball talk during a first innings opening burst that resulted in opposing bats being relentlessly beaten by late swing and lateral seam movement.

Used sporadically second time around, Jimmy filled in a tidy support role while Messrs Broad, Wood, Moeen and Root ripped through the Aussies like a lion tearing at the flesh of a narcoleptic kangaroo.

7/10

England line-up at Lord’s with an unchanged XI from the one that prevailed in Cardiff; will they be able to replicate last week’s dazzling display? Share your musings in the comment section below.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Wayne Rooney: Great, good or flat track bully?

Wayne Rooney recently won his 100th England cap a few weeks beyond his 29th birthday, ramming home a penalty against Slovenia for his 44th international goal. The new skipper followed that strike with a brace against Scotland a few days later, but did this merely reaffirm his reputation as a player who excels against lesser opposition?

Wayne Rooney 2

Rooney first made back page headlines as a 16 year-old, when he caressed a sumptuous winner for Everton against title-chasing Arsenal in 2002, curling a 25 yard shot beyond despairing Gooners custodian David Seaman.

It seemed that England had a future star on their hands, and Sven Goran Eriksson was quick to recognise the wonderkid’s talent with Rooney’s Three Lions’ début making him the youngest player to represent the country a few months after his 17th birthday (a record since broken by Theo Walcott.)

An exciting four goal showing at Euro 2004 was followed by a lucrative £27m transfer to Manchester United, where the now 18 year-old enjoyed a dream début, netting a Champions hat-trick in a 6-2 home win against Fenerbahce, ensuring instant adoration amongst the Old Trafford faithful.

Despite continuing to prosper domestically, Rooney’s international form since those teenage kicks has fluctuated between feeble in major tournaments and exhilarating in friendlies or qualifiers.

 

TOP ENGLAND GOALSCORERS

1. Bobby Charlton: 49 in 106 matches
2. Gary Lineker: — 48 in 80
3. Wayne Rooney: – 46 in 101
4. Jimmy Greaves: – 44 in 57
5. Michael Owen: – 40 in 89

 

The player’s forgettable showing at this year’s World Cup only added fuel to the fire of those who see Rooney as little more than a flat track bully, someone who excels against relatively low standard opposition, whilst struggling to make an impact among the elite.

In 2014 it hardly helps that the national captain is flanked by a host of average players such as James Milner, Phil Jagielka, Rickie Lambert, Jordan Henderson ad nauseam, although the emergence of Raheem Sterling, Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge and Jack Wilshire does offer cause for optimism.

 

Wayne Rooney adjusts his England captain's armband

It’s difficult to criticise “Wazza’s” goal scoring record for England, 46 goals in 101 matches, making him the third most prolific scorer in the country’s history and a mere three goals shy of fellow Man United icon Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 (scored at an almost identical rate.)

Ultimately perhaps it is due to the lofty expectations English football fans and the country’s media place upon the shoulders of promising young players that so many fall short of perceived potential. Comparing a 17 year-old Wayne Rooney to a 17 year-old Pele (a regular occurrence in tabloid newspapers in 2003) was like receiving the moon and demanding the stars as an aperitif.

Inevitably England’s third most prolific goal scorer of all time will take the top spot sooner rather than later (barring injury) and in that sense he can’t be considered a failure.

The fact that this should be wrapped up whilst the attacker is still in his 20’s is another gleaming feather in Rooney’s already overflowing cap, but to be considered a true great he must surely shine at Euro 2016 and/or the 2018 World Cup.

Only then will we know if Wayne’s world was one where the hype was disproportionate to the unfolding reality.

 

 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

World Cup: What chance have England got?

The football World Cup gets underway this evening, when hosts and tournament favourites Brazil take on Croatia tonight in Sao Paulo. England face Italy two days later in a contest that promises to shape both team’s fortunes, but are fans of the Three Lions right to be generally pessimistic? Dom Kureen explores.

World Cup trophy

Amazingly, it was 18 years ago that football came home for Euro ’96, with English fans treated to a roller coaster ride that ultimately fell from the tracks at the penultimate hurdle, when old foes Germany expertly dispatched half a dozen penalties before Gareth Southgate famously had his spot-kick saved, to deny a first major tournament final for England since they raised the Jules Rimet trophy aloft on home soil thirty years earlier.

In the ensuing period since that heroic defeat fan forecasts have become progressively less ambitious, understandable when comparing the current crop to a 1996 team that included the likes of Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Paul Gascoigne, Paul Ince, Stuart Pearce, Tony Adams and David Seaman – all of whom were at or close to their peak during the mid-1990’s.

Glenn Hoddle’s 1998 World Cup setup was exciting enough, with the emergence of Michael Owen as an 18 year-old superstar eventually overshadowed by David Beckham’s daft red card and another penalty shoot-out exit, this time at the hands of a handy Argentina side.

Shearer and Sheringham
SAS: Sheringham and Shearer enjoyed a world-class strike partnership for England.

Kevin Keegan had a go in 2000, but the job was ultimately ‘too big’ for the man dubbed ‘Mighty Mouse’ by legions of Hamburg supporters during his time as a player in the Bundesliga.

It was Phil Neville’s scatter-brained penalty area lunge into Romania’s Viorel Moldovan that ensured a last-gasp 3-2 defeat in the final group game, meaning that England failed to make the knockout stages of that year’s European Championships.

Sven Goran Eriksson was appointed based on a stellar CV forged in Serie A. Despite impressive qualifying results, the Swede’s Midas touch deserted him at the major tournaments and his successor, Steve McLaren, is probably best known for looking thoroughly miserable under an umbrella on the sidelines, having overseen a pathetic attempt to qualify for Euro 2008.

Fabio Capello was the next in line and started well, before his initial lustre wore away relatively swiftly. The respected veteran appeared distrustful towards some of his key players, with the likes of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard often performing well below their capabilities in competitive matches.

That leads us to Roy Hodgson, the present incumbent of one of football’s hottest seats – a safe appointment in reaction to the unsuccessful tenure of disciplinarian Capello.

Hodgson has done a lot of things well over the past couple of years at the helm, perhaps most prevalent of which was to exhibit faith in vibrant youth players trusted to integrate with faithful servants such as Gerrard, Rooney and Frank Lampard.

Also notable was the manager’s low-key response regarding Ross Barkley, after the Everton youngster gave an outstanding audition for a starting place in a recent friendly against Ecuador.

Refusing to fuel tabloid hyperbole suggesting that England had found their new Paul Gascoigne, Hodgson told gathered reporters:

We believe in him, but people shouldn’t be suggesting our World Cup should be hinging on his performance. He should be an England player for many years to come.

The 2014 World Cup will be an experimental one for England, with the likes of Barkley, Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana and Raheem Sterling all novices on this prominent stage.

Svengali: But Eriksson was far from magical during his England tenure
Svengali: But Eriksson was far from magical during his England tenure

What we can expect therefore is to witness the building blocks of the national team’s future slotting further into place over the next few weeks, with the side’s greatest asset the potential bubbling under the surface.

Daniel Sturridge adds invaluable calibre in front of goal and has shown flashes of intricate, dynamic link-up with Rooney. If Sterling fills the void on the right hand side then England could have an exceptionally exciting three man front-line.

At the other end Joe Hart is among the elite custodians in the sport, but has an unreliable defence in front of him that will require an exhaustive amount of babysitting from captain Gerrard.

England will do well to qualify from their group, although an ageing Italian squad, inspired by talismanic 35-year old Andrea Pirlo, is unlikely to cause the same anxiety as the one that knocked England out of Euro 2012 on penalties.

Dan The Man: Sturridge had a stunning season for Liverpool in 2013-14
Dan The Man: Sturridge had a stunning season for Liverpool in 2013-14

Uruguay have some special players among their attackers, notably Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani, but lack quality in defensive areas, something which the pace and guile of messrs Sterling, Barkley, Lallana and Sturridge can exploit.

Costa Rica have already been labelled as the whipping boys of Group D, although to dismiss them so lightly is a recipe for complacency.

Difficult to break down, ‘La Sele’ will turn to super-talented, irritatingly inconsistent former Fulham striker Bryan Ruiz to inspire their forays forward.

 

 

Prediction: Italy should win the group despite travelling with a clutch of weather-worn 30-somethings, with England tussling with Uruguay for the runners-up slot. The Three Lions will make the last-16, but probably fall at the second hurdle.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Number 23

England’s footballers head to Brazil this summer for the World Cup, with manager Roy Hodgson tasked with selecting his final 23-man squad at the start of June.

Here, Dom Kureen gives his verdict on who should make the cut and why.

4753931569_5d51fe2556

GOALKEEPERS
Joe Hart (26 years old, Man City, 39 Caps)
Remains his country’s undisputed number one, despite some indifferent club displays resulting in a prolonged spell on the sidelines for Manchester City earlier this season. Recent return to top form is timely, expect him to be a key figure if England are to progress beyond their group.

Fraser Forster (26, Celtic, 1 Cap)
With no serious contender to Hart’s throne, the Scottish Premier League’s elite stopper is the ‘best of the rest’, although his kicking and overall distribution remain worryingly suspect.

Ben Foster (31, West Bromwich Albion, 6 Caps)
The star turn in a poor Baggies team this season, Foster has the experience and confidence to prosper in South America and wouldn’t let the side down (a’ la Robert Green) should he be required to step up at any point.

 

DEFENDERS
Kyle Walker (23, Spurs, 10 Caps)
The former Sheffield United trainee hasn’t been at his dynamic best this term, but is still a fundamental component in his country’s blueprint for future and present success.

Glen Johnson (29, Liverpool, 50 Caps/1 Goal)
Although Johnson can be a liability in the defensive third, his powerful forward raids offer much-needed width to England’s narrow formation. That offensive ability, coupled with half a century of caps, should ensure that he edges ahead of the promising Nathaniel Clyne this time.

Leighton Baines (29, Everton, 22 Caps/1 Goal)
After spending almost a decade as Ashley Cole’s understudy, Baines is now the undisputed first choice left back at international level – one of Hodgson’s easiest selections.

Ashley Cole (33, Chelsea, 107 Caps)
A toss of a coin, with Southampton’s ‘wunderkind’, Luke Shaw, destined to displace Baines and Cole in the near future. The aura and reputation of England’s greatest ever left back should allow him one final tilt at the Jules Rimet trophy, before he gracefully steps aside at the conclusion of the tournament.

Phil Jagielka (31, Everton, 24 Caps/1 Goal)
In the absence of the internationally retired John Terry, the Toffees’ skipper is the Three Lions’ premier available centre half. As such, he will be expected to marshal the back line and should provide consistent, wholehearted displays against all-comers.

Gary Cahill (28, Chelsea, 22 Caps/1 Goal)
Prone to lapses in concentration, Cahill has at times found it difficult to step into the colossal boots of Messrs Ferdinand and Terry. For now he remains the appropriate choice to partner Jagielka in the heart of England’s back four.

Steven Caulker (22, Cardiff City, 1 Cap/1 Goal)
A £7m summer move from Tottenham Hotspur to Cardiff City enabled Caulker to play regular top-flight football, an opportunity that he’s since grabbed with both hands. Deserves to be rewarded for consistent excellence in a struggling Bluebirds team.

Phil Jones (22, Manchester United, 9 Caps)
Yet to fulfill his immense potential courtesy of various injuries, Jones’ value to his club side is nevertheless set to increase following the imminent departures of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic. Based on talent alone, he should have nailed down a starting place in the national side by now.

 

MIDFIELDERS
Steven Gerrard (Captain: 33, Liverpool, 109 Caps/21 Goals)
England’s captain may be past his talismanic best, but he is still a vital cog in the side’s engine room. Has adapted his game to compensate for a loss of pace and verve in recent seasons, ensuring that he remains indispensable for club and country as he approaches his 34th birthday.

Jack Wilshire (22, Arsenal, 15 Caps)
A creative tour de force at his best, Wilshire needs to add goals to his slick technical prowess in order to become the great player he’s capable of developing into. Has been in decent nick for the Gunners this term and should make the starting eleven at the World Cup if fit.

Michael Carrick (32, Manchester United, 31 Caps)
The veteran Geordie has had a subdued domestic season, missing almost half of Manchester United’s matches through injury. He remains a valuable squad player for England and a useful alternative to the inexperienced prospects vying with him for selection.

Ross Barkley (20, Everton, 3 Caps)
One of a host of talented English midfield players to emerge in the past few years, Barkley has more than a hint of Paul Gascoigne about his play, hopefully sans the off-field exertions. Has flourished at Goodison Park since Marouane Fellaini departed last summer.

Adam Lallana (25, Southampton, 3 Caps)
After working his way through the lower leagues with the Saints, Lallana has become a bona fide Premier League star, with the capacity to be moulded into Steven Gerrard’s long-term successor.

James Milner (28, Manchester City, 45 Caps/1 Goal)
A willing workhorse with the versatility to play anywhere across the middle of the park, or even as a full back, former Leeds United starlet Milner is a reliable if unspectacular footballer, as well as a model professional.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20, Arsenal 14 Caps/3 Goals)
In his third Premier League campaign, ‘Ox’ has yet to fully convince that he’s ready for a World Cup, although there have been flashes of the artistry associated with him throughout his youth team days at Southampton. In the absence of club teammate Theo Walcott, Oxlade-Chamberlain could find himself fast-tracked into England’s starting lineup.

Raheem Sterling (19, Liverpool, 2 Caps)
Flourishing alongside the visionary elegance of club colleagues Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge and Phillipe Coutinho, the Jamaican born winger-cum-striker has made monumental strides in the past nine months, notching more than half a dozen goals in all competitions and wreaking havoc upon opposition backlines with his searing acceleration.

 

STRIKERS
Wayne Rooney (28, Manchester United, 89 Caps/38 Goals)
The key man for England, Rooney’s record at major international tourneys has left much to be desired since he lit up Euro 2004 as a belligerent teenager. This summer will surely define whether he goes down as one of the finest players of his generation, or merely a very good one who floundered on the big stage.

Daniel Sturridge (24, Liverpool, 10 Caps/3 Goals)
After years of treading water at Man City and Chelsea, Sturridge’s £12m move to Anfield 15 months ago has seen him mature into one of the most clinical, potent front men in Europe. If his partnership with Rooney can develop into something akin to the one he enjoys with Suarez for the Reds, England will have something special on their hands.

Andy Carroll (25, West Ham United, 9 Caps/2 Goals)
A massive flop over the past three and a half seasons, Carroll has commanded over £52m in transfer fees, despite netting a meagre 14 league goals during that period. His inclusion would at least provide an interesting alternative from the bench and his presence can assist the talented midfield runners in the side.

Danny Welbeck (23, Manchester United, 21 Caps/8 Goals)
Has discreetly prospered at club level this season, netting nine league goals at a rate of almost one every two matches. Like a select few before him (notably Darius Vassell), Welbeck appears to be a player who performs better for country than club and is a valuable member of the Three Lions’ squad.

6868883489_15c4c74c30

 Who do the fans want?

Five fans also chose their 23 to represent England at the World Cup, their selections made for some interesting reading!


Harry Groves (Portsmouth/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Forster, Ruddy.

Defence
G.Johnson, Walker, A.Cole, Baines, Jagielka, Cahill, Smalling, Jones.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Wilshire, Carrick, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Carroll, Welbeck.

Did you know: Harry’s squad effectively ends Frank Lampard’s England career, with the 35 year old’s omission surely putting the legend out to pasture.

 

Jonathan O’Shea (Aston Villa/Ireland fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Foster, Forster.

Defence
G.Johnson, Shaw, Baines, Jagielka, Smalling, Lescott, Cahill.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Wilshire, Lampard, Milner, Lallana, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, A.Johnson, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck

Did you know: Jonathan’s squad selection is the only one of the six with Joleon Lescott and Adam Johnson’s names among the 23.

 

Sarah Kingston (Southampton/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Foster, Ruddy

Defence
Baines, A.Cole, G.Johnson, Jones, Cahill, Jagielka, Shaw, Smalling.

Midfield
Barry, Lallana, Lampard, Lennon, Milner, Rodwell, Shelvey, Wilshire.

Attack
Rooney (capt), Sturridge, Lambert, Welbeck.

Did you know: Sarah opts to leave Steven Gerrard at home and makes Wayne Rooney the captain instead.

 

Just Mike (England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Ruddy, Foster.

Defence
Baines, Cahill, Jagielka, Jones, Smalling, Shaw, Gibbs, Walker.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Lampard, Carrick, Lallana, Townsend, Sterling, Wilshire, Barkley.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck, Lambert.

Did you know: Mike is able to name three specialist left backs by utilising Chris Smalling and Phil Jones as backup to first choice right back Glen Johnson.


DJ Rees (Tottenham/England fan)

Goalkeepers
Hart, Forster, Butland.

Defence
Baines, Shaw, C.Davies. Cahill, Jagielka, Clyne, Caulker, G.Johnson.

Midfield
Gerrard (capt), Lallana, Barkley, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Huddlestone, Carrick, Wilshire, Henderson, Sterling.

Attack
Rooney, Sturridge, Lambert.

Did you know: DJ decides to reward form rather than reputation, nominating Curtis Davies, Jack Butland, Nathaniel Clyne and Tom Huddlestone after the quartet enjoyed productive domestic campaigns.

Tom Huddlestone has impressed DJ Rees since joining Hull City.
Tom Huddlestone has impressed DJ Rees since joining Hull City.

So, that’s what we think, how about you? Comment below to let us know which players you’d give the nod and why!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.