Twitter war is the last thing England should worry about

2012-08-17 00:00

WHEN your perched ranking is at stake, the last thing your should be worried about is who tweets what about who.

It’s runs and wickets that win you matches, not 140 characters.

Unusually, but with a tinge of sadness, I start off this column by sending my condolences to the family of Titans’ chief executive Elise Lombard, who passed away last week and was buried yesterday.

I never met her and I would dearly have wanted to before God’s will was done. Being a woman who forged an excellent career in a male-dominated industry was no mean feat.

It is a wonderful innings that Lombard played and she contributed hugely to the Titans’ success, especially in the franchise era, where a season has hardly passed without the Blue Machine netting a trophy.

At Lord’s, England’s preparations for the match will have determined whether they will keep their number one spot that Andrew Strauss and company have fought so hard to get to.

Now that Kevin Pietersen has been booted out of the England camp, they have to reproduce their ODI form in the Test arena — if only that was easier done than said.

Then you have the twitter war that has seemed to have torn the England side asunder, even though they are doing their best to make a public show of unity.

For a side that model themselves on being the most professional, they have not dealt with the issue very well.

They haven’t been friendly with the micro-blogging site, especially after the Pietersen rant when he was dropped from the team in 2010 to find form before the Ashes.

The cancer may have been removed, but the symptoms remain.

Worries such as Strauss’ constant flirtation around the off stump, Jonathan Trott’s strangulation in the same channel and Ian Bell’s inability to dominate the Proteas attack like he did with the Indians last year are things that need to be considered before the side deals with unnecessary distractions.

Likewise, Graeme Swann’s lack of bite and the general ineffectiveness of the English bowling attack.

ODIs are played over 50 overs, where pitches don’t deteriorate as markedly over eight hours of cricket compared to the climatic extremes a Test track can be subjected to.

The technicalities and the vagaries of the grand old game aside, South Africa the Test side are not the patchwork tourists that England have routinely trumped recently. This is Test cricket and it needs to be respected.

No one-dayer, irrespective of the scope of the playing surface, can put a player through psychical and mental extremes like Test cricket can. Jonny Bairstow, Pietersen’s replacement, was exposed by the short ball.

That method of attack has been phased to mould the game into one for the willow wielders, but as the West Indies showed, Bairstow is not adept at dealing with chin music. Helmets may provide protection from even the nastiest missiles, but Test cricket takes no prisoners when the players cannot deal with one of its most potent attacking weapons.

I have written about how easy it is to plan for a Pietersen-less side, but the danger will be the complacency factor that has scuppered so many probable series win.

National selection convenor Andrew Hudson told me they were seeking to avoid a repeat of a Devon Malcolm moment, when the erratic but impressively fast paceman tore through a tired batting line in which Hudson featured.

If anyone is capable of a Malcolm moment, Stuart Broad holds the key. His hostile second innings spell at Leeds was a far cry from the timid throwdowns that were flung all over the Oval and the first innings Headingley.

An ounce of momentum earned can easily snowball on the Lord’s slope, a ground Broad excels at. Before that though, tweeting needs to be swatted aside.

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