Thursday, December 9, 2021
Home Game Ashes Scout: Prior calls out ‘pathetic’ Paine, new selector’s bizarre debut, legend’s...

Ashes Scout: Prior calls out ‘pathetic’ Paine, new selector’s bizarre debut, legend’s big Mitch Marsh tip

England’s cricketers, Jimmy Anderson among them, have called for a calming in the traditional pre-Ashes war of words. And yet the old enemy can’t resists firing bullets.

Welcome to Ashes Scout, where The Roar will capture the key story lines heading into this summer’s epic battle for cricket’s greatest prize.

Former England wicketkeeper Matt Prior is the latest to chime in on what he feels are disrespectful comments about England’s Ashes cohort from Australian captain Tim Paine. No surprise that the comments contain a whiff of disrespect of their own aimed Paine’s way.

Paine angered England players when he said an England team would tour and players who weren’t up to touring in a pandemic should stay home.

“How many games have England played during Covid?” Prior told i. “It’s 18, home and away. Australia have played four, at home [against India]. So he’s not really in a position to speak, is he, because he’s not done it.

“It’s the Ashes and this stuff goes on, and it all starts months before the first ball is bowled. We all know that, we all get it. But there has to be a level of respect. When the West Indies got on a plane and came over here, there was a huge level of respect of what they were going through to make the series happen.

“To almost come across as threatening, almost as if ‘they’re a bit weak’ – it’s all a bit pathetic, quite frankly.”

Anderson recently urged Paine to keep sledging “respectable” adding it could be “dangerous to start talking like that”.

Prior said Paine had gone too far.

(Photo by Mark Kolbe – CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images)

“It would have been far better to say, ‘look, I understand it’s not ideal and I really hope they come over because the Ashes is the ultimate for an Englishman and an Australian and we really want it to go ahead’,” Prior agreed. “But it’s the Ashes – let the fun commence.”

England have not won an away Ashes since the 2010-11 series, when Prior was part of the side that drew in Brisbane before winning in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.

The key to that, he said was embracing the experience rather than fearing pressure.

“We went with a different mentality, we didn’t think ‘oh my God, we’re going to Australia this is scary’,” he said

“It was ‘oh my God, we’re going to Australia – it’s warm, the golf courses are great, the beer’s cold and by the way, the wickets are great for batting and bowling on.”

Prior said this year’s team would face different challenges because of the pandemic.

“Being locked in a hotel room, it’s awful,” Prior said.

“People will say ‘they’re England players and they get paid X, Y and Z. It’s irrelevant. I don’t care who you are, mentally it’s a big challenge, but it’s how the world is right now. It’s certainly not the worst thing to have ever happened in the last two years and I don’t think the players are arguing that either. I saw Jimmy Anderson last week and he said ‘it is what it is and we’ve got to get on with it’.”

Prior said the tourists had to expect the verbals to be with them every step of the way, from the fans, players, and even cabbies.

“Wherever you go, you get told you’re useless,” Prior says. “‘You’re a Pommie this and Pommie that’. And if that’s going to affect you, you’re in the wrong job, quite frankly.”

Dodemaide’s hilarious debut tale

Former Test allrounder Tony Dodemaide has just joined the national selection panel and will play a big role in picking the team for the Ashes.

His selection brought back memories of his incredible late call up for the Boxing Day Test against New Zealand in 1987 – the one where Mike Whitney defied Sir Richard Hadlee at the death to secure a draw.

Dodemaide, talking on Damien Fleming’s Bowology Report podcast, had a far different welcome into the squad than will be afford debutants he has a hand in selecting.

“I was in the squad as injury cover for Merv Hughes and Mike Whitney was in the squad as cover for Bruce Reid who was always injured,” Dodemaide recalled.

“Bruce couldn’t get on the plane. I think he snapped in half at Perth airport.

“The pre-match dinner was at the Hilton next to the ground – BBQ and a few beers – that was the match eve team talk.

“We were sitting around the pool and AB said Doddie, thanks for coming down, Merv looks like he’s alright but come down to the ground anyway. See you in the morning, come spend the day with us.

“I thought that was Christmas, which in fact it was now I think about it.”

Dodemaide got there early, got dressed and headed into the nets that were set up on the playing surface at the MCG. He was charging in to batsman after batsman as they prepared for action when the bizarre moment arrived.

“Allan Border was going out to toss with Jeff Crowe,” said Dodemaide.

“I got to the top of the mark to bowl again and I got a tap on the shoulder. AB said ‘Merv’s not going to make it, you’re in’. And walked off.

“I’d bowled for an hour and half in the nets. I’d done my loads by quarter past 10. Whit came up and said ‘man you look blown out,’ and I was. The first thing I had to do was go and change my underpants because I’d crapped myself.”

Dodemaide had no Aussie gear.

Ron Steiner, a Cricket Australia exec, set off on a mad dash to the CA offices to track down a baggy green and playing kit.

“These days cap presentations are on the ground and everyone holds hands and sings Kumbaya and there are words from greats of the past.

“My cap presentation was literally as we were walking onto the ground, Ronny Steiner comes in with a big red face throws my gear at me and says good luck. That was my cap presentation.

“I had no time at aLL to get nervous. Before I knew it I was standing out there at mid on, looking down at my chest and there was an Australian emblem on it.

“I had to ring mum from the changing rooms and said sorry I can’t come away on the Christmas holiday I have to play for Australia.”

Mitch Marsh in a ‘peaceful place’

Ashes legend Mike Hussey has pushed the claims of Mitch Marsh to play a key role for Australia ion this campaign.

“I wouldn’t write off someone like Mitch Marsh. I know he’s at the T20 World Cup at the moment and he’s not going to have any red ball cricket,” Hussey told the Bowlology Report.

“But as the series wears on, he’s at that age now where he’s been through so many different stages of the journey.

Mitch Marsh celebrates his one-day century against South Australia

(Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

“He’s been through the ups the downs, he’s in a really peaceful place at the moment. He’s happy with himself, where his life’s at, where his game’s at.

“That’s a real sweet spot for a lot of cricketers where they become more experienced, and they can then just have a good kick in their career. And I wouldn’t be surprised if over the next couple of years, we see some good consistent performances from Mitch Marsh.”

On the same episode former Test keeper Brad Haddin said his surprise selection would be Moises Henriques.

“I know he’s a New South Welshman and we should get more of those in if we can,” Haddin joked, “but I like the style of the way he’s scored his runs.

“Moises has moved his game forward, he’s scored a lot of runs for New South Wales. He’s actually held them together for a couple of games.

“He’s getting hundreds, he can do a little bit with the ball, is a good fielder and he’s also another good leader to have around that team. So I’ll be interested to see if he can push his claims for that first spot.”

Andrews’ Boxing Day goal

Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has urged his state’s population get vaccinated against Covid by suggesting the MCG could host a sell out crowd this series..

“I want to see 80,000 plus people at the Boxing Day Test on day one,” said Andrews. “We are determined to deliver that. It won’t be easy. I think selling the tickets will be pretty easy.”

Victoria will need to have 90 per cent of people over the age of 12 fully vaccinated before a crowd of that size is allowed and all attendees for the Test would need to be fully vaccinated.

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