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"Poor performance" - plain and simple

Fans dub Ashes "shoddyline series" at StickCricket.com

The ECB's (England and Wales Cricket Board) report into the state of English cricket is published this afternoon (24/05/07). The real fans of cricket have conducted their own, alternative review of the disastrous 06/07 Ashes tour at StickCricket.com.

Fans flooded the forums at StickCricket.com - the world's most popular online cricket game and the second most popular cricket website on the Internet - with their opinions why England were blown away by Australia in the Ashes.

Cricket fans were asked "What's the principle reason England lost the Ashes?" More than three in five fans (62 per cent) felt that the Ashes series whitewash was simply down to England's "poor performance".

Comments from the StickCricket.com fans' forum included:-

"It's the players fault, they didn't perform!!"

"England like to say Australia won the majority of the "key moments" but I'd put it more bluntly - England choked… And Adelaide Day 5 was one of the greatest chokes in Test history."

"In the end the Aussies played well enough to win the Ashes back but the Poms played so poorly they basically handed them back on a silver frickin platter."

While the England team were well below par, the fans were quick to acknowledge that Australia were an outstanding cricket team.

"I wouldn't make up excuses because Australia are just one hell of a team."

"Even if England had selected the right team, bowled well, suffered no injuries and kept from choking, Australia would've still beaten them. They were hungrier, better prepared and just too good."

"As for Australia - is there any stopping them?"

Director of Stick Sports, Chris Berry said, "The Ashes are the biggest prize in cricket and the manner of England's defeat in the Ashes was hugely disappointing. The fans have rejected all excuses for the series loss, believing England simply didn't play well enough to win."

The "shoddyline series"

Chris Berry continues, "England's bowling attack was so poor, the StickCricket.com community have dubbed the 06/07 Ashes the "shoddyline series".
England failed at the basics. Our bowlers didn't take enough wickets and the lower order failed to score runs throughout the series."

"In 2005, England's bowling attack had it all over [Australia] while [their] bowlers were a pale imitation of the past. The situation was reversed this summer. [Australia's] bowlers hunted in a pack the way England did last year. One word says it all: shoddyline."

While "poor team selection" was not felt to be the principle reason, it was a significant factor in England's test whitewash. 17 percent of fans felt that the omission of Monty Panesar and other key individuals was the most important factor in England's defeat.

Fans' critical comments included:-

"The selectors clearly wanted to keep the team as similar to the 2005 team as possible, which was incredibly stupid. They picked a load of out of form and unfit players because of sentimentality."

"The ECB should dissolve and all the English players should find new jobs like selling milk or vegetables."

"It was an error to choose Geraint Jones over Chris Read."

"[Duncan] Fletcher proclaimed Monty [Panesar] as the best finger spinner in the world, then didn't play him in the first two tests. What?"
The England team was widely criticised for its preparation in the build up to the Ashes. A lack of warm-up games and general preparation was accentuated by Australia's tough bootcamp three months before the series began. 12 percent of StickCricket.com users felt that "poor preparation" was the reason for England's Ashes annihilation. Forum comments included:

"England lost because they were not as organised as Australia."

"Funny how the bootcamp was ridiculed at the time, but with hindsight seems to have been a great idea."

Although the quality of Andrew Flintoff's leadership has questioned, cricket fans felt that the team as a whole were simply not good enough to beat an exceptional Australian team. 8 percent of fans felt that "poor captaincy" was to blame for England's Ashes loss.

Warney to win back the Ashes?

"Even the most patriotic cricket fan will admit that England were thumped in the Ashes this winter," said Chris Berry. "Despite England's improved one day form, the huge disappointment is clear to see throughout the StickCricket.com forum."

When the forum's discussions turned to what England needs to do in order to compete with Australia in the test arena, desperate posts included:

"A small thermonuclear explosion in every cricket ground in Australia."

"A miracle."

"Mike Gatting would be a great asset."

Many fans are even calling for Shane Warne, an Australian and the man who has tormented England in the Ashes since the "Ball of the Century" in 1993, to join the coaching set-up. Calls for Warne's involvement include:

"Man, if we could have Warney as coach for England we would be unstoppable."

"Warne as a spin coach would be awesome for Monty."

"England's recent victory in the International Triangular Series has offered fans a much needed glimmer of hope", explains Chris Berry. "But after the humiliation of the Ashes, confidence in English test cricket is still in a bad way."

Nearly 5,000 comments were posted in the StickCricket.com fans' forum discussing the Ashes defeat, from 150 topics. More than 10,000 users of StickCricket.com responded to a poll asking what was the principle reason England lost the Ashes.

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Notes to editors :

For further editorial information or to arrange an interview please contact sticksports@pwkpr.com or telephone +44 020 7609 1900.

What was the principle reason England lost the Ashes?

Poor performances 62.69%
Poor team selection 17%
Poor team preparation 12.08%
Poor captaincy 8.23%

Total responses 10078

Additional forum comments of interest include:-

England's lack of Practice:

"They need to play more. They need more practice games before big series, and they should play for their counties more often."

Poor quality of domestic cricket in England:

"I think England are suffering because of their weak domestic competition. There are too many teams and a lot of the players aren't of the highest quality. The players with potential cant develop as much as they could if they were playing in Australia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand etc."

Poor bowling performance:

"Flintoff and Hoggard COMBINED took fewer wickets than Stuart Clark. I think this shows how [England] need a paceman of a real aggressive nature, someone who can take wickets."

Australian brilliance:

"[Australia played] ruthless cricket, a class or two above England."

"When it comes down to it the Aussies were superior and deserved the series. They came out hard and got the job done and the poms couldn't match them."

"Rich sportsman syndrome" (due to players' new celebrity status and lucrative sponsorship deals etc.)

"After all the plaudits in September '05, the players suddenly became stars and it looks like they inherited the 'rich sportsman' syndrome that so many footballers have."

"[The players] suddenly thought they were gods (or at least close to it) and they turned to rubbish."

General:

"Players under performed, Freddie and Fletcher screwed up selection, not enough preparation and we were outplayed by a fantastic Australian side."

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