EXCLUSIVE: England's Ashes plans revealed
Hot on the heels of England's bowling plans for the Fourth Test being leaked, I can now bring you full details of the other dossier they tried to keep quiet: the secret plan to surrender the Ashes.
• Embark on a 15,000 mile round trip from India to Australia via England, as opposed to the 6,500 mile direct route from the Champions Trophy to Oz. As illustrated, the flightpath from London to Canberra practically goes over Ahmedabad!
• Play only two three-day games and a one-dayer against the Prime Minister's XI before the Test series begins.
• Allow 14 players to feature in one of the three-dayers, thus stripping the contest of any credibility whatsoever, and in the only other non-international match of the tour - between the Second and Third Tests - allow 12 men to play.
• Keep faith in Duncan Fletcher, despite his poor record since regaining the Ashes.
• Leave team selection not to the England and Wales Cricket Board, not even to the coach, but to a "management committee" made up of Fletcher, Andrew Flintoff, Andrew Strauss, Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones.
• Wrong on so many levels! Had Marcus Trescothick not quit the tour, Collingwood probably wouldn't have played - and as for Geraint Jones, do the powers that be need a bloody slide-rule to figure out why that's a joke???
• Appoint Andrew Flintoff (record as skipper prior to the Ashes tour: P6 W2 D2 L2) as captain at the expense of Andrew Strauss (record in charge: P4 W3 D1 L0).
• Overburden Flintoff: new-ball strike bowler, destructive middle-order batsman and now captain, using Strauss solely as an opener.
• Pick Ashley Giles, despite having not played in over a year, instead of Monty Panesar, for non-bowling reasons.
• Select Geraint Jones to keep wicket at the expense of Chris Read, because he can bat better. Allegedly.
• Allow Flintoff to bowl himself into the ground, while giving his fellow bowlers little of the ball.
• Set defensive fields, enabling the Australia batsmen to play themsleves into form and keep the scoreboard ticking over.
• Don't pressurise new batsmen with men round the bat while bowling a tight line of good length.
Any more reasons why England relinquished the urn? If you can think of them, let me know - or better still, let the ECB know!