Anorak News | Jonny, Be Good

Jonny, Be Good

by | 14th, February 2005

‘WHEN England fly-half Charlie Hodgson was masterminding victory against Tri-Nations champions South Africa in the autumn, the talk was of ‘Jonny Who?’

Where’s Jonny?

Now, Jonny Wilkinson cannot return quickly enough after England slipped to their third defeat in a row against what the Telegraph describes as “one of the worst French teams in living memory”.

Hodgson is fingered as the main culprit in the 17-18 loss after he and centre Olly Barkley missed a total of six penalty kicks.

Even then, England could have won but the Sale fly-half fluffed a simple drop goal chance with a couple of minutes.

Comparisons with Wilkinson’s last-minute drop goal winner in Sydney 18 months ago make Hodgson’s failure that much more conspicuous.

Others made more direct comparisons with the World Cup-winning team.

French captain Fabien Pelous, for instance, doubted that the old England would have let slip a 17-6 half-time lead.

“It’s probably the main difference between this England team and the team that won in Sydney – the World Cup team never faded away,” he said.

World Cup success for England’s one-day cricketers seems as far away as ever after they were routed 4-1 in the pyjama cricket series against South Africa.

However, appropriately given the setting, they do appear to have unearthed a diamond in South African-born Kevin Pietersen, who yesterday rescued his adopted country from embarrassment.

The No.5 guided England from 68-6 to 240 all out with another century – his third in the past four matches – scored at better than a run a ball.

The Times has had to use a calculator to work out Pietersen’s tour average – 558 runs from 554 balls at an average of 139.5 – when it can count most of the team’s on the fingers of one hand.

And it reckons that in doing so he has played his way into the Test side.

It would, it says, necessitate a rejig of the batting order with captain Michael Vaughan moving up to No.3 and Pietersen and Graham Thorpe coming in at No.4 and No.5.

But Vaughan has no doubts that England’s new recruit can turn one-day runs into Test success.

“He has set the world alight and has played innings of unbelievable tempo in pressured situations,” he told the Guardian. “He is an immense talent.”

The same has often been said of Michael Owen, who has struggled to break into the Real Madrid starting XI despite an exemplary goal scoring record.

The former Liverpool striker came off the bench to score with his head and so consolidate his position as having the best goal per minute ratio in La Liga.

Whether it’s enough to earn a starting berth remains to be seen.’

Posted: 14th, February 2005 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink