FORMER England captain Bob Willis has accused Jimmy Anderson of jeopardising his side’s Ashes hopes by dashing home to witness the birth of his second child.
England’s premier fast bowler, who has eight wickets in the opening two Tests, will undertake two grueling 24-hour flights in the space of a week in an attempt to be at his partner’s side, before returning in time for the start of the third Test in Perth.
The England and Wales Cricket Board yesterday confirmed they will grant Graeme Swann and Paul Collingwood time off from their World Cup build-up next February should their partners, as anticipated, give birth during that period, a policy Willis (right), who took 325 wickets in 90 Test match appearances for England, struggles to comprehend.
“I don’t agree with the Mothercare buggy-rolling thinking that modern man has. He should be on the cricket tour, that’s Anderson’s job,” he said. “Two 24-hour flights in a week won’t do him any good at all.”
Meanwhile, wicketkeeper Matt Prior insists he and the rest of his England teammates are refusing to get caught up in any premature Ashes euphoria.
Having taken a 1-0 lead in the series in such emphatic fashion this week, most judges, impartial or otherwise, believe the series is as good as over.
England were in a similar position in the 2009 contest and saw their crushing win at Lord’s wiped out at Headingley, and Prior is adamant that this England side will not succumb to a repeat of that scenario.
He said: “Certainly in 2009 during that Ashes, the one game we probably looked too far ahead was that Headingley match.
“We suddenly found ourselves 102 all out – and it was game over. We’ve learnt our lesson from that.
“In the past we’ve played good cricket and in the very next game played pretty poor cricket.
“If you want to win big series you have to play consistently and never take your foot off the gas. You can’t have one great game and one poor game.”
Meanwhile, Australia have confirmed that seamer Ryan Harris is fit enough to take part in the third Test which starts on 16 December.
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GOSSIP FROM DOWN UNDER
ANYTHING WARNE CAN DO
Why bring one ageing leg-spinner back when you can have two? Shane Warne’s potential return is one thing, but now 80-year-old Richie Benaud is throwing his Baggy Green into the mix, too. He said: “The really annoying thing about that [Warne] is that no one's asked me if I want to come back.”
IF IT WORKS FOR SWANNY
England’s quirky tweaker Graeme Swann once admitted he dipped his fingers in urine in order to toughen his spinning fingers. However, these days it seems Swann is taking a greater regard for personal hygiene judging by the contents of the emergency survival kit he received from his wife this week. He Tweeted: “My wife’s red cross package included foamburst shower gel. I’d forgotten soaping yourself up could feel this good.”
KNOWING WHEN TO QUIT
Talk about a glutton for punishment. Despite being on the verge of losing a third Ashes series as Aussie captain, Ricky Ponting is understood to be determined to be part of the 2013 Ashes series in England, even though his contract with Cricket Australia ends in 2012.