Update from James & Maxie

Hi everyone. First of all I must apologise for a lack of activity at TFT this week. We’ve had rather a lot going on behind the scenes. It’s been incredibly time consuming and frustrating, but I think there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

As some of you may know, we were hacked (twice!) a few weeks ago. We invested a lot of time and money into solving the problem, but every time we thought we were on top of things the hackers came back. It was a pretty grievous attack.

In order to solve the problems we’ve moved hosts this week. The new servers are apparently faster and a lot more secure. I’ve also shelled out for some internet security software.

Maxie and I are also meeting this afternoon to discuss the future. There might be a few changes afoot. We’ve also been working on something quite exciting that should make TFT a better experience when you’re out and about. Stayed tuned.

In the meantime, we haven’t forgotten that there’s some action going on in the UAE. It’s been interesting to see some of the fringe players performing well and pushing their case for test selection.

Steve Finn bowled extremely well yesterday, and there have also been wickets for the likes of Plunkett and Rashid. Who do you think will make the final cut? I can see us going into the first test with just two specialist seamers, Stokes and two spinners.

It was good to see Taylor score some runs today. You can see an interview with the diminutive Barry Manilow look-a-like in the video above. He comes across really well in my opinion. I doubt he’ll play in the test side, as Bairstow scored runs in the first game, but we’ll see.

What XI do you think England will field in the first test? We’d be interested to hear your views.

James Morgan


  • Still think they need Compdog and KP to add stability and strength to the team. The run rate is so slow [ well you’ve less chance of getting out then] and it is just not going to be good enough. But then ECB and Strauss know best.

  • I know I always bark on about this but Taylor really should be one of the first in the team, and not having to accommodate others. One of Bairstow and Buttler should make way.

    • Agreed.
      I like them both; either is capable of doing a decent job as keeper, but neither have established themselves in the team on their batting alone.

      And a little healthy competition for the place would do no harm, IMO.

      • I make both of you right there. One of my biggest worries is how 5-7 look v spin not that a couple of those above don’t worry me too.

        Therefore my line up would be;

        Buttler (WK)

        Not convinced about the overall batting at all, but think that a third specialist seamer is simply one too many.

  • Cook, Moeen, Bell, Root, Taylor, Bairstow (wk), Stokes, Rashid, Broad, Finn, Anderson.
    4 seamers isn’t ideal in the UAE I know but our spin options aren’t great and with 6 bowlers you can at least keep everyone fresh. I like Jos but his run of poor form has gone on long enough. Bairstow has earned a chance and the added bonus is that he may help to settle Rashid on his debut.
    On the evidence so far the batting may be more of a problem than the bowling!

  • Glad to hear that you’re getting to grips with things, also looking forward to future developments on the site. I’m sure I speak for most in saying that we all very much appreciate your efforts here. There are very few places where you can have a genuine heated discussion with people who fundamentally disagree with you and enjoy every minute of it! I’ve always thought you strike a very good balance in allowing everyone to express their opinions without it getting shouty or too negative.
    My feeling about the current series is that both Rashid and Ali will play. Ali will open in the first test (not my choice) and if he fails then Hales will replace him. I agree that we will probably only play Broad and Anderson due to the extra spinner, although there is a case for Finn playing and one of those two sitting it out.
    Personally I think Hales should be given all winter as opener to see if he can nail it down. You can’t expect someone to come in and be sorted after one or two tests. Ali seems quite happy where he is and has scored runs easily at 8 whilst bowling better and better as the summer progressed. Moving him up for me is a mistake and messes with the balance of the team. I won’t be dragging myself out of bed for these tests, I just don’t think it will be that good a series as to warrant the lack of sleep. I suspect it will be drawn or we will narrowly lose whilst claiming to have ‘learnt a lot’.

  • Thanks Mark. I agree with you about Mo. I certainly wouldn’t move him up to open. It’s madness in my opinion. His game isn’t suited to it and it will just make it harder for whoever opens in South Africa. We should be bedding in a new specialist opener now. There aren’t any outstanding candidates so we just need to keep trying people until one sticks. Moving a batsman who was doing well at 8 and moving him all the way up to open shows a lack of clear thinking. I think it unsettled both Mo and the team.

    • Agreed.
      There’s a reason teams employ specialist openers. Expecting someone who can make decent runs as a middle order stroke-maker to be able to step up to the role in test cricket isn’t realistic.

      And if he can stick around for the long innings, he’s going to be pretty knackered if expected to share the brunt of the bowling with Rashid.

  • Scyld Berry in the DT points out that England have only won the First Test of an away series once since 2004 (and that was against Bangladesh). There have been five draws and nine defeats. He also points out Pakistan haven’t lost their last seven Tests in Abu Dhabi.

    Berry blames the lack of adequate warm-up matches (although, unlike most writers, he doesn’t neglect the home side and mentions that Pakistan have just played an ODI series in Zimbabwe so their preparation isn’t exactly ideal either). He blames “the previous regime” at the ECB. Previous? If only….

  • If they aren’t going to play Hales as opener, what’s he doing in the tour party ?
    An untried (and untrusted) opener hardly represents insurance should the Moeen experiment not work out.
    Some of England’s thinking remains muddled (though rather less so than the chaos of the rugby selection).

    I’d have brought Compton.


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