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One man alone is not going to save English cricket. The Kevin Pietersen storyline is a goodun, full of rage, intrigue and hypocrisy. But the longer it goes on, the less we will be inclined to analyse what really ails our game.England will not win or lose the Ashes on the basis of whether Pietersen returns. There arent, after all, many examples of Test series being won by a single player: Harold Larwood needed Bill Voce during Bodyline, Ian Botham needed Bob Willis in 1981, Mitchell Johnson needed Brad Haddin in 2013-14. And a 35-year-old Pietersen is unlikely to be in any of those categories.If he does return, we may – briefly – get more people talking about cricket; he may produce some magic to belie his age; critics of Paul Downton may feel vindicated; it will almost certainly be a whole lot of fun.
Kevin Pietersen shows off his latest flamboyant hairstyle on his way to the Fox Sports studio on Tuesday
Thats the best-case scenario. But lets not pretend it would solve much.English cricket has always presided over a deeply imperfect system, one hampered by a fear of revolution. Occasionally we commission a serious report, which makes us feel progress is being made. But entertaining diversions are just as crucial to the psyche of the English cricket lover: they mean we can go easy on the self-analysis.From WG’s gamesmanship via Compton’s knee through to Botham’s extra-curriculars and KP’s tweets, our game has always quietly welcomed the glamorous, scurrilous sideshow, the tabloid tittle-tattle to balance out broadsheet sobriety.Yet if the game is reduced over the coming months to a string of will-he-won’t-he bulletins about the future of a player who has, at best, two years left at the highest level, then we will be doing the game a disservice.(I hope Pietersen proves me wrong. If he returns to international cricket, I hope he scores lots more Test hundreds and gives us all something to cheer about. The point of this article is not to pick on Pietersen.)
Pietersen is gunning for an England recall after his exile from the side, but turns 35 in the summer
The batsman has enjoyed some stellar achievements with England, such as here after the 2005 Ashes win 
Pietersens antics entertain the public just as Ian Bothams extra-curricular activities once did. Here the all-rounder was pictured dressed as a rabbit next to team-mate Phil deFreitas in Melbourne in 1986What should concern English cricket right now is how one of the best-resourced teams in the world spent the World Cup looking like one of the worst; how an air of fatalism about their chances became a self-fulfilling prophecy; and how Downton appeared so intensely relaxed about the fact that England were miles off the pace.In fact, batting was not even the half of their problems – another reason why the Pietersen debate risks straying into red-herring territory.Five members of the top seven averaged over 35, with strike-rates ranging from Jos Buttler’s 135 to Ian Bell’s 77. These are not figures to win you a World Cup, but neither are they out-and-out disasters.Far worse was the bowling, with Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad taking nine wickets between them at an average of 55. Not until Chris Jordan was given a game against Bangladesh did anyone nail a yorker. Steven Finn went for nearly seven an over, which was expensive even by the standards of this World Cup. And the refusal to look at James Tredwell and Ravi Bopara until it was too late was plain stubborn.
Stuart Broad was a key member of Englands struggling bowling attack during the World Cup 
Steven Finn (right) has gone backwards in both pace and achievement as a bowler
Chris Woakes has added pace but Englands bowling stocks pale in comparison with the likes of AustraliaThese are all questions that should concern Colin Graves and Tom Harrison in the short term. But the long term is even more worrying: where are England’s fast bowlers going to come from?This is the area that has always been most poorly served by an overcrowded domestic schedule played on tired pitches. Even Anderson has always relied on craftsmanship rather than speed, while Broad keeps breaking down and Finn has slowed.How long before satisfaction over the extra yard of pace added by Chris Woakes gives way to another sense of anti-climax? THE TOP SPIN ON TWITTER  For more musings on matters cricketing, please follow us on Twitter: @the_topspin  English fast bowlers emerge in spite of the system, not because of it. Pudding-like pitches help medium-pacers. Why waste all the effort of tearing in at 92mph when you can put it there or thereabouts – three words that get to the heart of English cricket – at 78mph and watch the grass do the rest?We cant simply blame the climate. A decade ago, Old Trafford would cause Steve Harmison to lick his lips. The Oval has had its moments too. Taunton makes bowlers work hard for their wickets.More damaging, were left to conclude, is a domestic set-up which encourages fast bowlers to throttle back if theyre to stand any chance of making it through the season. It shouldnt be the case that England feel the need to take promising young quicks out of the domestic game, away from the coaches who know them best.A glance at Australias list of fast bowlers provides an unnerving glimpse of the future. If England are able to come up with an attack that regularly takes 20 wickets, then the inclusion or otherwise of one batsman will feel like an irrelevance. THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WASThen again…Michael Vaughan believes Kevin Pietersen has a 10 per cent chance of playing for England again. The mystery is why Pietersen isnt doing his best to increase the odds.Speaking on Fox Sports last week, he had some fair things to say about the way Peter Moores had handled Englands World Cup campaign – but basic psychology tells you they were the kind of points better made by an out-and-out pundit, not a man hoping to resurrect his international career by working with… Moores!
Peter Moores (left) will hardly be encouraged by his previous with Pietersen… and KPs latest commentsI heard the coach come out and say: We don’t have a settled side, said Pietersen. Well mate, you played six months of one-day cricket before that game. Even if you don’t think youve got a settled squad, you don’t go and tell the whole world you don’t have a settled squad.Later: Ive played under Andy Flower and I had a worse relationship with Flower than I did with Moores.Its fine to have these views. We all have thoughts we realise its best to keep to ourselves. But, not for the first time, you do wonder: who, if anyone, is advising Kevin Pietersen?
Eoin Morgan has conflicting IPL and England dutiesDouble standards?That said, it would be intriguing to know what Pietersen makes of Eoin Morgans decision to place his IPL deal with Sunrisers Hyderabad ahead of Englands trip to Dublin in May for a one-day international that has taken on an extra dimension following the World Cup farce.Pietersen has been criticised in the past – including by this writer – for seeking to place IPL commitments ahead of national duty. Yet the ECBs more relaxed approach to the IPL sheds a more sympathetic light on Pietersens wishes.He has not always helped himself, but his contention that English cricket is riven with double standards is boosted by Morgans position. And Morgan, dont forget, is Englands one-day captain.A proud traditionThere was uproar last week when Zimbabwes Herald newspaper published a nasty piece headlined Alcoholic dumps Zim out of WC – a reference to a crucial catch held by Irelands John Mooney to dismiss Sean Williams, with replays suggesting Mooneys foot made contact with the boundary as he held on. Mooney has previously admitted problems with drink and depression, though quite what this had to do with the incident in question was anyones guess.
Irelands John Mooney was the subject of a cruel piece by Zimbabwes Herald newspaper
Mooney helped Ireland eliminate Zimbabawe from the World Cup by catching out Sean Williams
TV replays suggested Mooneys foot touched the boundary rope, meaning the catch should not have stoodA South African colleague, however, suggested we were all misplacing our energy. So absurd, she said, was the Herald that it recently ran an editorial berating journalists for their coverage of Robert Mugabes comedy stumble on a carpet at Harare airport.The Herald was so keen to prove that Mugabes accident had nothing to do with his age (he is 91), and everything to do with a poorly laid-out carpet, that it solemnly listed other moments of high-society slapstick. The clinching proof that Bob was still fit as a fiddle? In 1975, US president Gerald Ford tumbled down the Air Force One Stairs while visiting Austria. 
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Lawrence Booth (@the_topspin) on Twitter

Mobile ergaster ability abilities

Early human ancestors may have evolved to throw spears allowing them to hunt around two million years ago, a new study has suggested.Scientists have found that the skeletons of early species of human changed to give them the ability to throw much like modern humans.A study of fossils of Homo erectus, an extinct human ancestor, shows that their shoulders and collar bone would have allowed them to hurl sticks accurately and powerfully.Scroll down for video 
A study of fossils of Homo erectus, an extinct human ancestor, shows that their shoulders and collar bone would have allowed them to hurl sticks accurately and powerfully. The above skeletons of Homo erectus were reconstructed from fossils that the researchers used in their studyThis would have enabled Homo erectus to become a proficient hunter, able to throw weapons like spears and rocks at potential prey.
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Dr Neil Roach, an anthropologist at The George Washington University in Washington, said: The combination of inferiorly rotated, human-like shoulders with a tall, mobile waist and low humeral torsion, support Homo erectus as the first known hominin possessing the full anatomical complex associated with proficient throwing.THE COMPLEX EVOLUTION OF MAN55 million years ago – First primitive primates evolve15 million years ago – Hominidae (great apes) evolve from the ancestors of the gibbon8 million years ago – First gorillas evolve. Later, chimp and human lineages diverge5.5 million years ago – Ardipithecus, early ‘proto-human’ shares traits with chimps and gorillas4 million years ago – Australopithecines appeared. They had brains no larger than a chimpanzees 2.8 million years ago – LD 350-1 appeared and may be the first of the Homo family 2.7 million years ago – Paranthropus, lived in woods and had massive jaws for chewing  2.3 million years ago – Homo habalis first thought to have appeared in Africa1.8 million years ago – Homo ergaster begins to appear in fossil record1.6 million years ago – Hand axes become the first major technological innovation800,000 years ago – Early humans control fire and create hearths. Brain size increases rapidly400,000 years ago – Neanderthals first begin to appear and spread across Europe and Asia200,000 years ago – Homo sapiens – modern humans – appear in Africa 40,0000 years ago – Modern humans reach Europe  While direct evidence of early throwing behavior remains elusive, evidence for the intensification of hominin carnivory and hunting behavior dating back two million years is increasing.We propose that this increased carnivory was facilitated by a flexible, situation-dependent hunting and scavenging strategy that included high-speed throwing.In the study, which is published in the Journal of Human Evolution, compared the shoulder and collar bone sizes with modern humans and other species.They also examined the throwing ability of boys and men from the Daasanach tribes living around Lake Rukrana in north west Kenya and south western Ethiopia.Daasanach boys use bent throwing sticks called shar to hunt small game and herd lifestock while adults will also hunt with spears.The researchers asked 27 Daasanach to hurl throwing sticks as far as they could, measuring the speed with radar guns and the distance.They compared their throwing ability to the dimensions of their collarbones and the humerous bone.The researchers found that the Daasanch were able to throw at speeds of up to 80mph (128km/h) – comparable to skilled athletes. They were able to hurl their sticks more than 328ft (100 metres) in many cases, with none throwing less than 196ft (60 metres).The world record for throwing the javelin, for example, is 321ft (98 metres) for men. The study showed that differences in collar bone size did not alter the length or speed of the throw.By comparing the results to fossils of Homo erectus, they conclude that this species of early human would have had similar throwing abilities.
Homo erectus, shown in the reconstruction on the left and the skull on the right, is an extinct ancestor of modern humans that may have shared may of our abilities to throw and hunt, according to the latest researchIt suggests that the ability to throw spears and other objects for hunting evolved long before our own species, Homo sapiens, appeared on the planet.The ability to throw powerfully and accurately has long been thought of as being a uniquely human trait. Chimpanzees, by comparison can only throw at speeds of around 20mph.The study builds on earlier work by Dr Roach that compared the throwing action of college baseball players with the skeletons of chimpanzees.They identified key change to the shoulder, arm and torso of humans that allowed them to store elastic energy in their ligaments and tendons to help power a throw forward with great accuracy.
Homo erectus could have been able to throw further than many modern athletes, according to the research HOW EATING MEAT HELPED HUMANS SPREAD AROUND THE WORLD  Tucking into meat for dinner helped early humans spread more quickly across the world and had a profound effect on human evolution, scientists say.The high-quality diet allowed mothers to wean babies earlier and have more children, meaning that human communities grew faster, according to researchers from Lund University in Sweden.The research compared 67 species of mammals, including humans, apes, mice and killer whales, and found a clear correlation between eating meat and earlier weaning.They found young of all species stop suckling when their brains have developed to a particular stage, but that carnivores reached this point more quickly than herbivores or omnivores.Eating meat enabled the breast-feeding periods and thereby the time between births to be shortened, according tot he researchers.Among natural fertility societies, the average duration of breast-feeding is 2 years and 4 months. This is not much in relation to the maximum lifespan of our species, around 120 years.It is even less if compared to our closest relatives: female chimpanzees suckle their young for 4 to 5 years, whereas the maximum lifespan for chimpanzees is only 60 years. This was a crucial step towards evolving how to throw and led our ancestors to be able to hunt large prey.However, archaeological evidence of weapons like spears have yet to be found.Dr Roach said: A number of changes occurred in our evolutionary past to the shoulder, arm and torso make this elastic energy storage possible.They first occurred two million years ago in the species Homo erectus. That allowed us to throw with incredible velocity at around that time.We see hunting behaviour to emerge around that time. We think that throwing was important early on in terms of hunting behavoiur to allow our ancestors to kill big game and get more calories in their diet. 
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Clavicle length, throwing performance and the reconstruction of the Homo erectus shoulder