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Ashes Scout: Call for England to end career of 'elephant in the room' Anderson, Boland's fitness battle

10th January, 2022
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10th January, 2022
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Former England captain Michael Vaughan says veteran James Anderson should bow out of Test cricket in the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart.

Writing in a column for The Telegraph, Vaughan said that it was time for captain Joe Root to manage the departure of the man who has snared 640 Test wickets in his storied career.

“England cannot move on, be a world force with Anderson at the helm,” Vaughan wrote.

“I love watching Jimmy bowl. He is a poet with the ball in hand. He could still be England’s best bowler for another two years.

“Just because you can still perform does not mean you should keep going on and on. The team has to evolve.

“It is not about sacking Jimmy. It is about what is right for English cricket.”

Vaughan compared Anderson to Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath who walked away from Test cricket while still firing as Test bowlers.

“Warne and Glenn McGrath retired with one or two years of high level cricket still left in them,” wrote Vaughan. “Just because you can still perform does not mean you should keep going on and on.

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“Eke out every ounce of knowledge from Jimmy about how to bowl at this level and keep him involved but bowlers like Saqib Mahmood and Olly Stone need a run in the team.

{“There will be around 60 Tests before England play in Australia again. Are we going to come back here and win with guys who have played only five or 10 Tests? No.”

Boland in doubt after fall

Australia’s fairytale fast man Scott Boland is battling to be fit to extend his incredible run in Hobart.

The 32-year-old left the field in Sydney after a fall and needed painkillers to continue playing.

The Age reports that he is in doubt for Hobart with team staff looking to manage loads.

Billings’ mercy dash

After several weeks shining for Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash, Sam Billings was expecting to be heading for the Caribbean via London to play white-ball cricket for England.

Instead he was told to head south after Thunder’s victory over Perth Scorchers at the Gold Coast on Thursday and answer an SOS from England’s Test team.

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With wicketkeeper Jos Buttler ruled out of next week’s series finale in Hobart due to a fractured finger and Jonny Bairstow also carrying a thumb injury, Billings looks set to pick up the gloves and go straight from the Twenty20 circuit into the Test arena.

With flights deemed too risky given Australia’s rising Covid-19 caseload, he first had to complete a 12-hour journey from the Gold Coast. En route he tweeted ‘Just an observation…Australia is a realyyyyy big place!’

That was followed by a strict quarantine and testing process at England’s Sydney base which meant he followed the nail-biting conclusion to England’s fourth Test draw on his hotel television.

“It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. I was probably 90 minutes to two hours away from getting on that plane back to the UK. It all happened pretty quickly,” he said.

“I went to the airport, got the rental car and cracked on, basically. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. For the first 24 hours I hadn’t heard anything or seen anyone, I’m sure I’ll find out later this week if I’m playing.

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“I’m just really looking forward to it. Like any side I go into, I will try to make a positive impact on and off the field, and add to any environment I am put into. We will have to wait and see if that Test cap does come.”

Ollie Pope’s solid showing as a substitute keeper at the SCG – he took four catches after being thrust into the role at short notice – means Billings is not guaranteed a game on Thursday but if he does get the nod, the Kent player will not be daunted.

He has played more short-form cricket in the past few years, managing just four outings for Kent in last year’s LV= Insurance County Championship – but at the age of 30 he has more than a decade of first-class experience under his belt.

Add in 58 limited-overs internationals and his recent work on Australian pitches in the BBL and he feels capable of a smooth transition to the five-day game.

“Regardless of the format, regardless of circumstances, with experience and maturity you can get a sense of where your game is at,” he said.

“I’ve been playing and scoring runs. I’m 100 per cent ready if required. It doesn’t really matter what format it is, it’s more about rhythm, confidence and mindset. As a player you look where your opportunities may lie to progress your career…for me it has always been with the white-ball side so far.

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“But this has been on the radar, it’s something I’ve really wanted to do.”

‘I hope he doesn’t forget it’

Former England spinner Monty Panesar has urged Jonny Bairstow to kick on from his excellent performance in Sydney.

“I think England will be buoyant about the whole display of how they showed the fight and resilience, it was formidable to see the likes of Johnny Bairstow showing the counter attacking nature as a batsmen,” said Panesar.

“I hope Bairstow now thinks that’s who he is as a batsmen, if he’s looking to save a Test match or tough conditions that mentality of putting the pressure onto the bowlers.

“It could just be in good positions, you bowl a bad ball and I’m gonna put that away. I think that’s Bairstow’s template for test cricket, he’s got a lot of character and put’s a lot of pressure back on bowlers. I hope he doesn’t forget now, that’s Johnny Bairstow.

“Even the character shown by Ben Stokes, he’s injured but that was really good to see.

Let’s be honest there a few structural and systematically within English cricket, at least when Chris Silverwood joins the team at Hobart he will know that it’s a slightly different environment. I would say this is more of a victory for England after they’ve been absolutely thrashed over the last few test matches.”

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