Vic Marks

Author's details

Name: Vic Marks
Date registered: October 8, 2014
URL: http://www.theguardian.com/sport/australia-cricket-team

Latest posts

  1. West Indies lack time to deal with problems in all departments | Vic Marks — August 21, 2017
  2. Batting the big question mark for West Indies to make series competitive | Vic Marks — August 16, 2017
  3. Selectors hope Mason Crane can conquer English history on step into the unknown | Vic Marks — August 12, 2017
  4. Joe Root’s form and leadership reassure but England top order still an issue | Vic Marks — August 8, 2017
  5. England’s recent batch of final Test defeats are a bad omen — August 3, 2017

Author's posts listings

Aug 21

West Indies lack time to deal with problems in all departments | Vic Marks

Shannon Gabriel and Devendra Bishoo may get a game at Headingley after the West Indies bowlers served up a diet of leg-side fodder to Cook in the first Test

Joel Garner, the West Indies’ team manager, and Stuart Law, their coach, in their own different ways and accents, had warned England not to underestimate their side before the Edgbaston Test. Well, it is fair to conclude Joe Root and his team did not fall into that trap. Instead they won by an innings and 209 runs inside three days (and nights). Now there is a greater danger England might underestimate West Indies before the Headingley Test, which starts on Friday.

Before the first match it was mentioned here that bowling was probably the West Indies’ stronger suit – certainly they have a bit more experience in that department. After they had yielded 518 runs, 243 of them to Alastair Cook, one felt chastised and obliged to think again. Then came the West Indies’ batsmen. In essence they were bowled out twice in a day on an Edgbaston surface that may have started to deteriorate – as a good pitch should – but which was still relatively benign.

Related: Deep-thinking Stuart Broad in no mood to ease up despite mismatch of a series | Ali Martin

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/21/west-indies-lacking-time-problems-batting-bowling-england-second-test

Aug 16

Batting the big question mark for West Indies to make series competitive | Vic Marks

They will have the fastest bowlers on show at Edgbaston, but a new batting star will need to emerge if the tourists are going to find the runs to put England under pressure

With uncertainty comes excitement. So it must be a good thing that we don’t quite know what to expect at Edgbaston over the next few days. We do know that the ball is pink, that ticket sales are good and that it might be a good idea to bring a jumper (and maybe a blanket and a balaclava for the final session, which will probably end around 9.30pm every evening). Even better; get an invitation to a swish, warm hospitality box.

We are less sure about how the pink ball will behave or how good this West Indies team will be. There has been a rapprochement of sorts between the players and the West Indies board, though that is not obvious from the Test squad selected. While the youngsters in the touring party prepare to do battle with England’s finest in Birmingham (the leg-spinner, Devendra Bishoo, is the only man over 30 in the tour party), the more familiar names are participating in the Caribbean Premier League. Understandably the older players are pondering their pensions.

Related: Pink balls and a witching hour: what to expect at England’s first day-night Test | Will Macpherson

Related: Mark Stoneman’s debut against West Indies offers chance of Ashes place

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/16/england-west-indies-edgbaston-test-series-batting

Aug 12

Selectors hope Mason Crane can conquer English history on step into the unknown | Vic Marks

The 20-year-old Sussex leg-spinner is unlikely to play in the day-night Test against West Indies at Edgbaston but he could soon buck a troublesome trend

It seems we have some dewy-eyed romantics as selectors. From Hampshire they have plucked the young wrist-spinner, Mason Crane, whose bowling average is twice his age. A fresh-faced novice of 20 is on the verge of playing Test cricket after 25 first-class games.

It is an eye-catching selection and a heartwarming story and – who knows – might have a happy ending. Whether Crane actually plays in Birmingham against West Indies is debatable. This is England’s first ever day-night Test with the devious pink ball, which sometimes get up to tricks when the sun goes down. During the twilight hour it is the seamers who usually prevail. So Crane may not make the final XI.

Related: Heather Knight: ‘I was panicked. I thought I’d lost the World Cup’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/12/mason-crane-england-legspin-west-indies-test-day-night

Aug 08

Joe Root’s form and leadership reassure but England top order still an issue | Vic Marks

Two batting places are up for grabs in Test series against West Indies as selectors search for settled line-up in time for the Ashes in Australia

It is quite an achievement to beat South Africa for the first time in two decades in this country with what was to all intents a nine-man side. England were dependent on their old guard for victory while those seeking to establish a place in the side were unable to make telling contributions.

The combination of Liam Dawson, Gary Ballance and Dawid Malan mustered 138 runs in 12 innings in this series – though one should not discount Dawson’s five wickets at Lord’s. At the top of the order Keaton Jennings scored 127 runs in eight visits to the crease – and he was the beneficiary of several dropped catches.

Related: Joe Root believes England’s Test series win could be the start of something

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/aug/08/england-south-africa-joe-root-west-indies-australia-ashes-tour

Aug 03

England’s recent batch of final Test defeats are a bad omen

• England have lost eight out of nine final Tests since 2014
• South Africa need a victory in Manchester to level series at 2-2

A draw at Old Trafford is all England need to win the series against South Africa but that would be a fatal frame of mind with which to approach the final Test that starts on Friday.

Related: South Africa ‘had a few hard chats’ after third Test, says Vernon Philander

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/aug/03/england-south-africa-fourth-test-old-trafford

Jul 26

England return to South Africa’s happy hunting ground nervy but with new faces

England still to decide between Liam Dawson and Dawid Malan as they seek to bounce back from Nottingham defeat in third Test at the Oval

It must have been a long week for the England cricketers – the men, that is. While the women have been justly feted for their exploits, not least for reminding us what a captivating spectacle cricket can be when we do not know who is going to win, the men have had to overcome the temptation to brood.

After the Lord’s Test against South Africa there was much rejoicing about the brave new world: a fresh regime with a brilliant, proactive captain in charge of a talented, young side, suddenly unfettered. After Trent Bridge England were brash, irresponsible fly-by-nights, lacking desire and commitment and none too bothered about respecting Test cricket. As ever and rather boringly, the truth lies somewhere in between. It is tough to make a headline proclaiming “England not quite as good as we/they thought they were”.

Related: Toby Roland-Jones replaces Mark Wood for England in third South Africa Test

Related: Do not question England’s fight or desire before third Test, says Ben Stokes

Related: England humbled as South Africa square series with 340-run win

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/26/tom-westley-toby-roland-jones-england-south-africa-third-test

Jul 23

England faced with no easy answers after painful defeat by South Africa

Tom Westley makes his Test debut but the rest of Joe Root’s chastened side is marked by uncertainty as they attempt to bounce back at The Oval

So which side are going to be thrashed at The Oval? The series between England and South Africa has not been short of incident or interest but, while it stands tantalisingly at 1-1, a tense, fingernail chewing finish to a Test has been the missing ingredient. Add a couple of those and we have a series to remember for a long time. Modern cricketers do not seem so adept at digging themselves out of holes.

Related: Joe Root says England must learn fast from defeat Trevor Bayliss calls ‘shocker’

Related: South Africa transformed by Du Plessis’s bold and hard-nosed captaincy | Ali Martin

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/23/england-south-africa-third-test-tom-westley-joe-root

Jul 13

Joe Root must solve team puzzle to secure lasting success for England | Vic Marks

The England captain enjoyed a successful first Test, but the long-term potential of Gary Ballance, Keaton Jennings and Liam Dawson remains untapped

It could not have gone much better for Joe Root at Lord’s. Never underestimate the importance of runs for a new captain; they remove the biggest cloud facing the man in charge of a new regime, which is the struggle to justify a place in the team. An emphatic victory comes in handy as well.

Moreover, he handled his bowlers with easy authority. This was most obvious with the spinners: he tossed the ball to Liam Dawson for the 14th over of South Africa’s first innings, a ploy that did not work but here was early confirmation that for Root the spinner is not the bowler of last resort.

Related: Alastair Cook relishes his new role back in the England engine room

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/13/joe-root-team-puzzle-england-south-africa-second-test

Jul 10

England’s matchwinner Moeen Ali in no rush to shed second spinner label | Vic Marks

Despite his 10 wickets in the first Test, Moeen Ali is still considered by England coach Trevor Bayliss to be a batsman who bowls a little, and that’s how he likes it

It is customary after a Test match for Trevor Bayliss to give his assessment of what has just happened. He seldom surprises. Bayliss is a fount of blunt cricketing commonsense. Like a good old-fashioned Aussie he does not dabble in psychobabble; he hates to overcomplicate. Which is often a relief.

Yet after England’s 211-run victory at Lord’s Bayliss’s post-mortem seemed to contain several linguistic nuances and psychological subtleties, the likes of which seldom spring from his lips. Most of them referred to Moeen Ali, England’s matchwinner after taking 10 for 112 in the game as well as hitting a silky 87 in the first innings.

Related: Joe Root lauds England aggression and names unchanged squad for second Test

Related: England thrash South Africa by 211 runs: first Test, day four – as it happened

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/10/england-matchwinner-moeen-ali-cant-shed-second-spinner-label

Jul 05

England Tests against South Africa can be more compelling than the Ashes

It may be tempting to view the first Test at Lord’s as practice for trip to Australia later this year but England v South Africa contests tend to be close-fought

This is an Ashes year so it might be tempting on the eve of the series against South Africa to conclude: “Well, this should be some handy practice for the trip to Australia.” In fact, there could not be a more patronising, provocative or ill-conceived way in which to view the four Test matches against the South Africans, the first of which begins at Lord’s on Thursday.

Such an assessment would be badly misguided on so many fronts. Just at the moment there is no guarantee that we will recognise any players in the Australian XI come November. If the dispute between Cricket Australia and their players continues then the logical consequence is that in Brisbane 11 baggy greens will be handed over to some startled grade cricketers in a team that would make the Packered Australian side, who were thrashed by England in 1978-79, seem like giants of the game. The assumption remains that the two sides in the dispute will reach an agreement, even though Aussies tend to give way no more readily than Sebastian Vettel.

Related: AB de Villiers absence spells danger for Test cricket, says Mike Brearley

Related: Cricket: The Joy of Six: Rob Smyth’s England v South Africa memories

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jul/05/england-tests-south-africa-can-be-more-compelling-than-the-ashes

Jul 02

South Africa confident of Test success despite absence of AB De Villiers | Vic Marks

The great batsman will not figure in the Test series against England and may never play in the format again – but his compatriots are unfazed

Beyond the South Africa camp there may be a mixture of alarm and relief that AB de Villiers is not participating in this Test series and that he may never play Test cricket again. The non‑partisan punter will be disappointed by this prospect since De Villiers, now 33, is one of the great cricketers of his generation.

The figures demonstrate that – 106 Tests, 8,074 runs at an average in excess of 50 is a formidable record – but those numbers do not convey the magic of his batting when he is in full flow. De Villiers, the politest of men, has nevertheless had the capacity to intimidate international bowlers whatever the format.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/02/south-africa-confident-test-series-england-despite-ab-de-villiers-absence

Jul 01

England show some surprising caution at the start of the Joe Root era

For all the bold talk when the Yorkshireman was appointed, the squad for his first game as England captain against South Africa hints at a pragmatic approach

Now for something completely different: white kit, red ball and a week in the same hotel. It is finally Test match time. The first one against South Africa starts at Lord’s on Thursday and then there will be six more this summer inside eight weeks.

Related: Gary Ballance recalled to England Test team against South Africa

Related: Joe Root can bring aggression to England captaincy in new big-hitting era | Vic Marks

Related: Joe Root was not always earmarked for England captaincy but rarely shirks a test | The Spin

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jul/01/joe-root-england-captain-south-africa-lords-first-test

Jun 30

England may turn to Gary Ballance again but bowling remains the problem | Vic Marks

Joe Root will have some input for the South Africa Test next week but the new captain will not be the only one having difficulty in naming an able-bodied paceman

A captain is seldom more powerful in selection than before his first Test in charge. On Saturday morning Joe Root’s squad for the opening Test of the series against South Africa, which starts at Lord’s on Thursday, will be revealed and it will surely have the imprint of the new leader.

Root’s thoughts about the batting order, most specifically where he himself should bat, will be unusually relevant. There has been the suggestion that he may revert to No4 now that he is captain. But since England’s last Test match in Chennai in December such a move has become increasingly inconvenient.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/30/england-gary-ballance-south-africa-test-joe-root-ords

Jun 25

Pink balls at night may not be every batsman’s delight | Vic Marks

All County Championship matches will be day/night this week in a pre-Test experiment but players who are colour blind may have difficulties

There may be some splutterings from the disgusted of Tunbridge Wells, with cornflakes flying into the marmalade as if propelled by a Purdey after reading about County Championship matches starting at 2pm, finishing around 9.30 under floodlights and being played with a pink ball. On Monday this will be the case in all nine games around the country.

A pink ball! The colour pink has so many connotations. Many years ago I was accosted by a mischievous EW Swanton, who asked: “Whatever are you doing writing for that pinko rag?” (After a moment of confusion I realised that he was referring to the Observer). Swanton may not have approved of pink balls either, though there were sages more reactionary than him.

Related: Tom Curran determined to build on confident start in England decider

Related: If the ball is anything to go by we could be tickled pink by cricket day-nighters | The Spin

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/25/pink-ball-experiment-county-championship-gary-ballance

Jun 17

Will Pakistan’s dangerous trio give us a final to savour against India? | Vic Marks

India thrashed Pakistan in the Champions Trophy group stages but the pace attack of Junaid, Hasan and Amir can deliver a much-needed tight finishNo matter where they meet, a cricket match between India and Pakistan brings parts of the globe to a stands…

Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/17/pakistan-india-champions-trophy-final-oval

Jun 13

England may find low-scoring Cardiff a hindrance in Champions Trophy semi | Vic Marks

Pakistan’s lack of batsmen who clear the ropes regularly means Sophia Gardens is likely to be more suited to their ‘old England’ style in Wednesday’s semi-final

So it is England against Asia for the Champions trophy. Against expectation Pakistan and Bangladesh are semi-finalists – there is no surprise India have qualified. This should ensure all sides have vociferous support in Cardiff on Wednesday and at Edgbaston on Thursday. Even better, they say the sun is going to make an appearance as well. A fitting climax to the tournament is in prospect.

Pakistan may not have taken on the role of cornered tigers, a description Imran Khan as captain coined so effectively in the 1992 World Cup in Australasia but Sarfraz Ahmed’s motley side are putting up a good fight. Back then a Pakistan team far more intrinsically gifted than this one were on the brink of being knocked out of the tournament but everything clicked just in time and they went on to beat New Zealand and England in the semi-final and final respectively.

Related: Pakistan’s confidence is high for England semi-final, says Sarfraz Ahmed

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/jun/13/england-pakistan-champions-trophy-semi-finals-cardiff

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