Tuesday, February 26, 2008


ComRes - 41/30/17

An excellent poll at a critical time, when it looked like we were dipping below 40% and Labour was recovering. The Lib Dems are also not making very much progress.

London Mayor: Boris 44/Ken 39

This is truly excellent, and as posters on ComHome have pointed out, the London Mayoral Election result is hugely significant for the Party. I would even go as far to say that if Boris loses, it may ruin David Cameron's reputation - although electing Ken would obviously be far more calamitous for London than for the Party.

Also, Michael Portillo's television programme 'The Lady's Not for Spurning' is the best piece of political television I've seen for some time (although perhaps he needs to polish his MT impression a bit) - look out for classic Thatcher quotes like 'Take me to the battle!' at the 1976 Cambridge by-election.

Watch it on BBC iPlayer here

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cherry picking.....

Does anyone honestly believe that these twelve quotes accurately represent Cuban public opinion after half a century of one party rule? HMM. You decide.

New Zealand ODI Series Review

Right, cricket.

Shane Warne is right. England must stop making excuses if they're going to become a serious force in one-day international cricket. Peter Moores cannot stand there and sensibly say that, 'We've played on funny shaped rugby grounds with short edges where it has been difficult to play a spinner'. England seem to find it impossible to select a successful combination of bowlers in ODIs. Jimmy Anderson is all over the place at the moment, and doesn't seem to be able to acquire any consistency. Stuart Broad promises, but bangs it in short all too often. Ryan Sidebottom is the only consistent performer and his inclusion in the England setup is probably Peter Moores' most commendable achievement so far.

England did not learn enough this series - McCullum and Ryder continued on their merry way whilst England persisted in banging it in short. Anderson is the main problem, and as a Lancastrian, I take no pleasure in reprimanding him. His economy rate in the final game was 11.25, which, for a opening bowler (even in Twenty/20) is completely unacceptable. He looked clueless as to how to combat the aggressive batting of New Zealand's openers. Anderson, therefore, should be dropped. Broad's place in the side is also questionable.

Off-spinner Swann impressed in New Zealand but hasn't really been given the chance to bowl ten overs since - he should be a fixture in the side no matter what the pitch or overhead conditions are. A spinner is necessary to maintain control in overs 20-40, along with Collingwood's medium pace, and perhaps some overs from Owais Shah and/or Luke Wright. Dimitri Mascarenhas should be bowling ten overs, and why Paul Collingwood hasn't been allowing him to do so is a mystery.

The batting has shown occasional brilliance, but again, England are unable to learn lessons. It seems that when faced with a slow pitch, English batsmen still cannot adapt their strokeplay to the conditions. One might have thought that we have endured enough humiliation on the subcontinent to know about this. As for the opening partnership, Alastair Cook has to go. He is an excellent test prospect, but he is no one-day player, and, perhaps similarly to Michael Vaughan, he doesn't look like he has the power or ingenuity to post large scores. Phil Mustard has only made one substantial score, but England cannot afford to discard him so soon and re-open the travelling circus which is the debate over English wicket-keeping. We will have to make do with what we have. We do not have an Adam Gilchrist or a Kumar Sangakarra.

So, it now comes down to selection. Who should be kept in the ODI squad?

Mustard - low scores but shows promise
Bell - how shown ability to adapt but needs to convert more 50s
Pietersen - not in the best of form, perhaps, but it would be madness to drop him
Collingwood - is best in the team at adapting to conditions, and is the captain
Shah - too good a batsmen for no. 6 and isn't given enough of a chance to score
Wright - has scored useful big-hitting runs down the order and should bowl more
Mascarenhas - big hitter and canny bowler, he must stay and bowl more
Broad - strike rate is good but he's expensive. Should probably stay for now.
Sidebottom - England's best bowler and should be a permanent fixture

Dropped: Cook, Anderson

Bopara - not included this series and as looked all at sea recently
Tredwell - should have been given a game, otherwise, what's the point?
Ambrose - an excellent keeper, but seen as the test selection
Tremlett - he isn't Steve Harmison. Friendly bounce, expensive.

Suggested batting order:

[mystery fast bowler]


Sidebottom: 10
[mystery fast bowler]: 10
Broad: be prepared for only 5, but it should be 10
Swann: 10
Mascarenhas: 10 if Broad's wayward
Collingwood/Wright/Shah/Pietersen: 5