Anorak News | Unhappy New Year

Unhappy New Year

by | 4th, January 2005

‘ENGLAND’S cricketers may have won 11 of the 13 Test matches they played in 2004, but yesterday they needed no reminding that this is a new year.

The arrows of outrageous fortune

And if they are not to start off 2005 with a first Test defeat since the third Test in Sri Lanka 14 months ago, they might need another Durban-like miracle.

A weary looking England subsided to 95-4 on a benign Cape Town pitch last night in reply to South Africa’s first innings score of 441.

And today they will struggle even to save the follow-on unless they can somehow rouse themselves after the best part of two energy-sapping days in the field.

The lost toss (Michael Vaughan’s third of this series and tenth in 12 overseas Tests as captain) suddenly looks even more costly after the exertions of Durban.

Derek Pringle, in the Telegraph, concedes that fatigue has been and may be today a factor in England’s sub-par performance – but it was the late wicket of Andrew Strauss that has really put England in trouble.

The Middlesex opener chopped the ball onto his stumps in the penultimate over last night soon after becoming the fourth quickest Englishman to 1,000 Test runs (after Herbert Sutcliffe, Len Hutton and Wally Hammond).

And with Robert Key out for a duck and Vaughan continuing his worrying run of poor form, England suddenly looked in trouble.

In circumstances like these, they should perhaps look to a man with a very similar winning record.

Phil “The Power” Taylor had before last night won 11 of the last 14 world darts titles – albeit spread not over a calendar year but a decade and a half.

And, although below his imperious best last night, he made it 12 out of 15 in beating Mark “Flash” Dudbridge 7-4 at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet.

“It was the most difficult win of the lot for me because it gets harder and harder as I get older,” the champion told the Independent afterwards.

“I practised very hard for this tournament but you can’t practise the pressure or the atmosphere.”

Something that Robert Key, for one, knows only too well…’

Posted: 4th, January 2005 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink