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‘Full house’ at Casa Blanca: The Beach Boys bring John Stamos to Belgium

California will be in Hemiksem this weekend. At Casa Blanca at Saint Bernard Abbey Surfin USA California Girls Good Vibrations and other sixties classics by The Beach Boys will resound. Nice extra the iconic group brings actor John Stamos best known from Full House as a special guest. Ben Stokes has urged his team to be even more fearless positive and aggressive and declared they are in the entertainment business rather than sports business. It is hard to see how they can be more aggressive than nine an over a Trent Bridge – perhaps strapping knuckle dusters to their batting gloves?But it was wise to keep eyes peeled at nets on Wednesday with the ball flying to all parts at times and it was noticeable how long Brendon McCullum spent chatting to the bowling group.

Headingley is a ground that rewards a full length – England bowled India out here last year for 78 and Pakistan in 2018 for two scores below 150 by pitching the ball up more than in any other Tests here since 2006. The wicket balls at Headingley are significantly fuller in length than anywhere else in England almost a half a metre more than at Trent Bridge Lords and Edgbaston so it is not hard to imagine what McCullums chat to the bowlers entailed.Last years surface nipped this one looks flat Yorkshire no doubt wanting five days to fill empty coffers and England also keen to continue their progress by winning on surfaces similar to those they will encounter overseas. The way England are batting under McCullum would be a lot harder on a green mamba as well.

Jamie Overton gives Stokes that extra menace with the short ball and his pace will be important if the pitch gives the bowlers little help. He replaces James Anderson ahead of twin Craig who would have been the safer bet but Stokes wants to be bold in selection too. Anderson was part of the bowling group and led discussions at times as McCullum deferred to his knowledge and while there are still good spells left in him it is a good time to start the process of moving on and looking at Overton.Anderson struggles to be a threat across a five-day match now – his second innings average over the past two years is in the 40s. Overton impressed Stokes when he was a reserve in the Covid summer of 2020 and bowled six overs of short nasty stuff in the nets and the new captain knows he has to widen his bowling pool with so many injuries. Expect Brydon Carse another Durham fast bowling product to play against South Africa.

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