Cow Corner

  • It only happens twice a lifetime

    Pakistan crush England

    Test cricket never ceases to amaze and England managed to achieve something today they had only managed once before in the last 110 years.

    It was just the second time in that period England had lost, having been set less than 150 to win.

    Old Trafford in July 1902, Wellington in 1978 and now Abu Dhabi 2012 - defeats of spectacular ignominy.

    And in truth England got nowhere close, dismissed for 72 in less time than a Pro40 innings: it is never a good sign when the boy L E G Byes is your third top scorer.

    The skipper did get to 32 but half of those runs came after Andrew Strauss was inexplicably
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  • Is Broad England’s genuine all-rounder?

    There are few roles more important and yet elusive then a genuine world class all-rounder.

    England have always been more transfixed with the role than most other sides, heralding the status of Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff beyond all measure.

    Since Flintoff hung up his size 14 boots after the 2009 Ashes, the nation has awaited the next instalment of the all-rounder phenomenon with bated breath. It is an obsession which consumes even the most pragmatic of cricket followers.

    Stuart Broad's bowling has improved dramatically since he ditched the ill-advised role of England enforcer and

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  • Strauss far from finished with England

    The lonely walk back to the pavilion (well, the big white building)

    It seems that there must always be at least one member of the England team fighting for their place in the side with their selection under threat, or that is simply how it is perceived.

    England's best performers during their rise to the top of the Test rankings have all endured torrid patches of form with their status as international players put under intense scrutiny.

    Alastair Cook and Stuart Broad, in particular, have had to put up with hearing countless suggestions: that they step back into county cricket; forget about representing their country for a while; and completely change their

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  • Monty puts a spring back in England’s step

    Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann lead the celebrations

    There are some players who contribute significantly more than the mere sum of their runs and/or wickets to their team: either in terms of tactical acumen, motivational gusto or positivity and spirit.

    Monty Panesar offers a great deal to every team he plays in due to his unquenchable enthusiasm and ebullient character, and England were the beneficiaries of his influence on day one in Abu Dhabi.

    He may have finished with just one wicket, but the 33 overs bowled by the 29-year-old enabled his captain Andrew Strauss to employ England's more attacking bowlers in roles more suitable to their

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  • Can England improve in the desert?

    A very bad three days at the office...

    It would be disingenuous to simply explain away England's abject failure with the bat, citing rustiness and a lack of experience in unique conditions.

    England were unceremoniously thrashed inside three days at the hands a side in apparent transition and undertaking a steep learning curve.

    Make no mistake, Pakistan were clinical, ruthless and professional; meanwhile, England's showing was inept, uninspired and insipid.

    England's dire showing with the bat in this Test match was so devoid of substance that scant constructive analysis can be offered.

    The facts are not in the tourists' favour:

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  • The second spinner debate

    Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar

    England have been branded "stubborn", "inflexible", "bloody-minded" and "short-sighted", but is a rigid belief in a system and the make-up of the ideal Test XI something to be criticised?

    Andy Flower and Andrew Strauss have been lauded for the way they have galvanised and led a group of players in their successful partnership; but with every strength lies a potential weakness.

    Would England have less apparent revulsion at the concept of picking a second spinner if they had one of greater ingenuity and guile than the current cab on the rank, Monty Panesar? It is hard to speculate.

    But there

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  • Did anyone see that coming?

    England began day one at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium with the swagger of a side who were on top of the world; they ended it firmly under the cosh having been comprehensively outplayed.

    In front of a farcically sparse crowd in Dubai, England found themselves at 52 for five at lunch as the top order was blown away - no, fell away meekly - against a less-than-vaunted Pakistan bowling attack.

    Even the usually unerring Alastair Cook committed an uncharacteristic error of judgement in the length of a fairly innocuous delivery. It was a shock to the system, no doubt about it; England

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  • Why does depression keep surprising us?

    Harmison and Flintoff in 2007Freddie Flintoff: Hidden Side of Sport explored the phenomenon of depression amongst sports stars, highlighting a problem that blights people from all walks of sport — champions and vanquished, happy-go-lucky types and introspective stars alike.

    It was powerful, and it was honest. But it should not have been a surprise.

    Why is it one?

    It's nothing new. Depression in sport is long-known, and in cricket in particular it is, sadly, an entrenched problem.

    More than a decade ago studies revealed that the suicide rate in cricketers in Britain was 75% higher than the average rate of suicide in men in

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  • Pup becomes Australia’s big dog

    Michael Clarke at 100, 200 and 300Michael Clarke has just finished penning the ultimate three-day mission statement as captain and leading batsman of Australia.

    The 30-year-old has been in the job for the best part of a year now, and to describe his tenure as a rollercoaster would be to do a disservice to the soaring heights and dizzying lows his side have hurtled through in that time.

    As far as lows go, being 21 for nine in South Africa in November must leave a mark as permanent as the Arabic tattoo ('The pain of discipline is nothing like the pain of disappointment', since you ask) that adorns Clarke's arm. Losing a Test to

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  • The rebirth of fast bowling in Tests?

    For the last decade and more the cricket community has been discussing the slow death of genuinely fast bowling in the Test arena.

    Gone are the days of the West Indian quicks uprooting stumps as if at will, of new ball pairings with the hostility of Lillee and Thomson, or of the pace and guile of Wasim and Waqar.

    And for a long time precious few bowlers have been able to step forward and fill their spikes. Dale Steyn as a fast bowler of the highest calibre is a welcome exception, while the sight of Andrew Flintoff, Shoaib Akhtar or Brett Lee in the spells they were at their vicious best was

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