Wise People Learn When They Can; Fools Learn When They Must

It seems appropriate after a defeat in Wellington to quote the great Duke. It seems to sum up the position of our cricket team at this time. This is a team that looks on its knees, knowing it must “learn lessons” and fast.

I tweeted earlier that I’m not giving up on this team. I’m not basing this on any logic, any analysis, any particular confidence, but this is clearly an underperforming unit at this stage and it can, and probably will get better. Let’s review the team at the end of the competition when the knife can well and truly be stuck in. But clearly this is not going well. I can deal in understatement with the best of them!

Am I angry? Does it matter if I am? No-one has paid a jot of notice of the “refusenik” anger for the past 12 months so what does it matter if we go crazy now. AndyInBrum summed up so much of the pent up fury in his BTL piece on The Guardian that I’m not even going to attempt to outdo him:

Remember last year when Giles Clarke said england weren’t at a massively low ebb? He was right.

I’m gutted we got thrashed & good players are getting a tonking, but I would be lying if I’m not feeling smug about it at the same time.

I told you so, I told you that the leadership Omnishambles at the top of english cricket would lead to this, I told you sacking KP was a mistake, not just for spurious form reasons, but for the utterly incompetent, vindictive, spiteful way it was carried out.
I told you that Paul Downton was an incompetent so far out of his depth that fish with lights were above him.
I told you the signing of Moores was a disaster, I told you the failure to address the myriad failures of the ashes series would be a disaster, I told you the continuation of Cook as captain would be a disaster, & now his removal was too late, but better than nothing. We told you the bowling coach was doing it wrong, that the bowlers were bowling repeated utter dross, & that bowlers bowling well, fast & dangerously in County Cricket were coming to team england and regressing horribly

We outside cricket, told you this would come to pass, & we’ve been ignored, moderated or dismissed as irrelevant KP blow yards.

Well we told you so & it happened, so stuff you & the horse you rode in on

But let me tell you what grates at me. Like the nails down a blackboard, like a Downton interview, like a westcorkthinktank patronising…. it’s this:

We’ve never been any good at one day international cricket.


We only care about test matches.

This make my blood boil. Australia seem to be able to switch between the two with no difficulty whatsoever. South Africa are the world’s number 1 test team, yet they always fill their big ODI games, and certainly prioritise both forms of the game. Why in the name of hell do we think we are so damn special that a form of the game at which an undisputed World Champion will be appointed in a competition that is held every four years is beneath us. That we shouldn’t care? I’ve read this defeatism, and it makes me livid. It’s not as if we performed well in our holy grail of Ashes test cricket the last time we did it. We used to sell out our ODIs with ease, so it isn’t a lack of public interest. Or it wasn’t.

The ECB, for all we slag them off for their stupidity, cleared the decks to prepare for this competition. They got us to play a somewhat daft ODI series in Sri Lanka as a warm-up, and then got a Tri Series gig in the Big Three Cup. They’ve lined this tournament up. I actually don’t want to throw them under the bus for this bit. Where we cocked it up is we decided, 12 months before the competition, to do what we did. We know what that was, and for me I lay the complete farce this has been so far squarely at the door of my bete noire, Paul Downton. It was he who was the man behind the now infamous dismissal of Pietersen. It was he who was the man behind the selection of Peter Moores as the coach. It was he who was the man behind the unequivocal backing of Alastair Cook as captain in both tests and ODIs. It was he who was the man behind the maintenance of Cook as that captain for ODIs because he deserved chance after chance (and hoping he would come good). It was he who was the man behind the public backing of Cook in Sri Lanka, and then was part of the decision team that sacked him, at practically the last possible moment. I love Andy’s line about him being so far out of his depth that he’s below fish with lights! I wonder what needs to happen for this man to vacate his post…..

But you know that’s what I think. Those of you (that’s probably 99% of my visitors) that frequented my previous place will also note I’ve been pretty quiet on the Peter Moores front. While I wasn’t exactly decking the bunting at his appointment, I want to be as even-handed as I can about his performance, but my patience is wearing thin.

Last year I said this:

Appointment of Moores – I don’t believe it to be a conspiracy, borne out of Flower’s removal and then the need to have KP out of the way for him to be brought in. However, I won’t be admonishing those that think that given a large amount of circumstantial evidence to suggest this could be the case (Selvey pumping him, the “greatest coach of his generation” twaddle, his closeness to Flower etc.). I think the job was Giles’s to lose, and Giles lost it.

and this:

I have absolutely no hope for the future. Good luck Peter Moores. Good luck Alastair Cook. This is your bed, prepared using the sharpest nails by the ECB. Go lie in it.

Moores has not impressed. James at TFT points out on a regular basis that he has never won a one day trophy as a coach, but he’s still the outstanding coach of his generation. Moores comes across to me as a genuinely decent bloke. I fear that the culture among major sporting teams in this country is that we seem somewhat resistant to home-produced coaches, seeing them as ordinary compared to an exotic overseas appointment. I think he also had the obvious issues from the first time around that weigh him down no matter how much people deny it. The smell test is that this is not working, no matter how hard he is trying. The selection of Ballance at number 3, and then dropping Taylor down to six on the day of the first game of the World Cup has panic written all over it, even if it is a rational decision in his eyes. I felt his justification, and subsequent comments smacked of “not my fault” after the Australia game, and to a degree, it isn’t his fault if batsmen play crap shots. But this is a team, whenever you listen to them in that management drone drivel they specialise in , that talk incessantly about “getting the right plans”, “doing the basics” and “executing our skills”. It is said a good coach can be reflected in on field demeanour and fielding quality. These seem not to have improved no matter how much we are told about the dream pairing of Cook and Moores “are creating a good environment”.

Moores knows that the attention is starting to move his way. With Cook out the way, and Downton seemingly impervious to the hatred his presence ensures, it is Peter Moores who is in the hot-seat. Saker is on his way out, Paul Farbrace seems to have become the invisible man, and the layers of protection are being stripped away. It’s not looking good. We’ve entrusted a World Cup to this man, and it seems the last line of defence is the old defeatist one that I stated above. “We’ve never been any good at it”. That doesn’t wash.

If this tournament ends in abject failure, heads have to roll. We cleared the decks for this. We supposedly prepared for this. We ruined the Ashes in many peoples eyes for this. We have a brutal 2015/6 for this. To then rely on lazy presumptions that the fans don’t care, and an Ashes win will satisfy us, are taking the punters, as usual, for fools. This is not either/or. It never has been for teams that aspire to be great. I presume that’s what we want. After all, we won a World Title at the shortest form of the game, so that canard of being no good at this sort of game for some endemic reason is absolute shite. It’s a crutch for those who can’t face the fact that the people that made THAT decision are, in fact, charlatans. Because to admit that would be to admit you-know-who had a point. I saw someone today, who I know has encountered KP, say he’s rather have B*llock cancer than have him back in the team. That’s the sort of thinking I adore.

I’m not going to bother with these players. What’s the point? They got us into this mess, they need to get us out of it. By any means necessary. If they don’t, then eyes need to be cast in the direction of the likes of Stuart Broad, Eoin Morgan and Ian Bell in particular, as well as Jimmy Anderson who disappoints me more and more in this format. There’s a lot of talking, and not a lot of doing.

Oh well. 1500+ words of ranting, and I’ve only scratched the surface. There’s plenty more out there, so read them as well. TFT, Peter Miller et al. Eviscerating stuff showing the disappointment we feel. We care. We really care. Why people think we don’t is beyond me. Utterly beyond me.

37 thoughts on “Wise People Learn When They Can; Fools Learn When They Must

  1. Rohan Feb 20, 2015 / 8:19 pm

    Excellent piece your Lord! I think you have hit the nail on the head – WE CARE – and that is what those who fashioned the outside cricket comment failed to realise and because we care we will keep fighting for things to be made right so that our England team can play well again…….


  2. d'Arthez Feb 20, 2015 / 8:28 pm

    “.The selection of Ballance at number 3, and then dropping down to six on the day of the first game of the World Cup has panic written all over it, even if it is a rational decision in his eyes.”

    Surely you mean Taylor (probably “and then dropping Taylor down to six”)?

    This is the kind of management I would not wish upon my fiercest enemy.


  3. Rav Roberts Feb 20, 2015 / 8:37 pm

    42.1 McGrath to Pietersen, FOUR, Cracking shot! McGrath is full and Pietersen bludgeons that back past the bowler for four. That is some hand-eye co-ordination!

    42.2 McGrath to Pietersen, SIX, Maximum! Glenn McGrath being treated by a club bolwer on this occasion! Pietersen gets to th epitch of the ball and creams it into the stands over long-off. That is an incredible shot!

    42.3 McGrath to Pietersen, FOUR, And now a spanking cover drive to bring up his half-century! Pietersen really turning it on with power and panache. Great knock from him in his first Test innings

    This after 15+ years of bowing down to the Aussies.

    Nuff said.


    • Rohan Feb 20, 2015 / 8:53 pm

      Remember Boycott writing (think it was him, but may have been a pietersen column), that PIETERSEN gave him a lift back to his hotel after that knock at Lords and Boycott told him he had thrown away a century! Well he certainly went on to make enough of those, the most in all forms of international cricket by any England player.


      • Rav Roberts Feb 20, 2015 / 10:10 pm

        This is the player we can do without because all the others are soooooo good.


  4. Annie Weatherly-Barton Feb 20, 2015 / 8:40 pm

    Absolutely right on all fronts me Lord. Just too tragic for words. Yes, most of us did see this coming to pass and we didn’t even have a crystal ball!

    What I detest about all of this is the current level of criticism of those who told us all that we were “nasty” and not “fans” of England Cricket because we all dared to say what we saw as obvious outcome of the ECBs decisions. Bob Willis was even in Radio Times, just last week, slagging off KP again. Now he is slagging off the England Team, as is Aggers and surprise, surprise DT has thrown his stones at the team. Just wonder how Selvey, and his mate, is going spin this little lot.

    You know I am really glad KP isn’t in the team. I am, for one time only, glad KP isn’t around to be blamed for the current crap being served up by a team run by morons. Although a lot of what he has said will now be seen in a totally different light but those with some sense of justice.

    Thanks for the continuing outlet for all our frustrations in this matter. You’ve been amazing. Can’t thank you enough.


  5. SimonH Feb 20, 2015 / 9:06 pm

    Scyld Berry’s running the “they’re a young team” line again so let’s look at this –

    Unlike in the Tri-series it is true. England were on average nearly two years younger than NZ (26.8 to 28.7). NZ also had more ODI caps, averaging 100 each to England’s 75.

    It seems to me NZ (and Australia previously) have a much better spread of ages in their team. NZ ranged from 22 (Milne) to 36 (Vettori). Nine of England’s team are 24-28. Perhaps it’s a coincidence but I can’t help feeling it says on a laptop somewhere this is when players are at their peak.

    What Berry doesn’t ask is why are the team so young? Player burn-out and various other factors come into play. I’m seriously doubting I’ll see a 35+ player play for England again (unless Ian ‘Superman’ Bell can keep going!). When you consider what players ranging from Kallis to Sangakkara to Chanderpaul to Misbah have achieved past 35 it seems a nonsense.

    This lack of ‘wise old heads’ isn’t the only reason why England lack on-field leadership and apparent match-sense but it sure is part of it.


    • Boz Feb 20, 2015 / 9:36 pm

      What England lack is really big bats, surely Moores should be advocating the use of trees, whole trees for this England team, they should be big enough!! (just read Crowe on bat sizes, honestly …)


  6. julie Feb 20, 2015 / 9:41 pm

    You suggest that these decisions lie with Downtown.I may be paranoid but I think he is Andy Flowers puppet and we are still back in the old Flower days .The results in NZ had a certain feeling about them.Flower walked into the sunset too quietly.That just wasn’t him.He’s still there, selecting the team with his own skills and bias.Of course his trusty little Laptop on his knees.Till ECB is opened up and cleaned out we will just see more of the same.


  7. Arron Wright Feb 20, 2015 / 10:49 pm

    At least two posters on TFT (one implicitly, the other explicitly), regard Peter Moores as the Medvedev to Flower’s Putin.

    Until I see compelling evidence to the contrary, that remains my default position, as it has been since Selvey’s “Peter Moores is the right coach for England, of that I have no doubt”, written within ten days of 4th February 2014.

    You will note, as I have, the complete absence of blame directed Moores’s way (even for the Ballance/Taylor farce), and how this a) reflects the absence of blame attached to Flower for 2013/14 (or the UAE/SA defeats in 2012) and b) contradicts the disproportionate amount of credit Flower received for good results, reaching an absurdist peak after his bloody amazing decision to replace Bresnan with Panesar after Ahmedabad, i.e. exactly what every BTL-er with half a brain said we should have done in the first place. Has Moores been given another editorial at The Cricketer lately? I wouldn’t know, seeing as I stopped reading it as soon as Simon “Dignified debonair diamond Downton… Cook has such integrity he would never cross the boundary first [meanwhile he scores 2 in 8 balls]” Hughes took over.

    I went through my Andyinbrum phase last summer. It didn’t take a defeat with 226 balls left to make me that angry. Now I’m just bored with being proven right, and disgusted with the wilful blindness of arrogant people who haven’t *paid* to watch England play in fucking *decades*.


  8. @pktroll Feb 21, 2015 / 8:21 am

    With the best will in the world I’m not going to dwell on Downton. The guy is a muppet whose shown that he has no understanding of what it is like to run a sporting organisation and worse than that no feel for the game that he was once a professional in,. That he really believed he was going to lead in English cricket into a bright “new era” when we had recycled or kept on a load of rubbish is beneath contempt for me.

    Anyway I’m going to move on to Moores. In some respects I pity the guy rather than have any real resentment for him, because he has been chosen in spite of the glaring inadequacies that hadn’t shown any real sign of having got over even in his spell at Lancashire. He seemed to be a good motivator for the honest county pro who was never going to bother the international selectors, the likes of Kyle Hogg saying how he made him feel a million bucks was an indicator that perhaps management speak might motivate the ordinary pro. Yet does this give any insight into his technical and talent management that is required to turn good players into outstanding ones?

    That is where the question mark was for me. Similar is true at Sussex. Although Matt Prior broke into the test team when Moores was first coach at England he was a very dodgy wicket-keeper whose footwork was nigh on non-existent and this ended up flailing at catches that would have been taken more comfortably if he got into a reasonable position. Peter Moores was a wicket-keeper in his first class career. Problem, no? Was it any coincidence that it was after Moores left the England coaching position and that Bruce French was brought in to do technical work with Prior that the man’s keeping skills improved markedly? I think not.

    Then well go onto the captaincy debacles in Moores first spell in charge of England. He lost 3 in the space of a few months in 2008. Firstly Vaughan (even if he was coming to the end of his time as a batsman), then Collingwood as ODI skipper and finally of course Pietersen. All of whom made it clear at the time that they couldn’t work with him and that they had all been quite scathing of his capabilities at regular intervals. Of course it was Pietersen who attracted vitriol as the uppity South African who had forced him out regardless of the fact that Moores had failed to build working relationships not only with his captains but apparently some of the more senior players in the squad at that time. Now you will see that Collingwood is predicting that England may well bow out in the group stages.


    It is hardly a surprise that he doesn’t rate Moores given previous history but he’s very direct in calling him out over tactics and his way of thinking and the lack of trust given to flair players. The article is very damning. There’s much to sympathise even if the subtext is obvious.


  9. @pktroll Feb 21, 2015 / 8:40 am

    I don’t know what more I can say about Downton that you guys all haven’t said before. The guy doesn’t know how to manage the public face of the company and worse than that he doesn’t even have a feel for the sport that he played. That he thought he was leading England into a heroic new era with a recycled coach and a not fit for purpose captain reveals that the guy is more than a bit of a mug.

    Anyway moving onto Moores. I too feel a little bit sorry for the guy however there are a number of issues. He lost 3 captains in the space of a few months and that along with results did for him first time around. Sure Vaughan was coming to the end of his time as a player but the fact that there were 3, including him Collingwood and of course Pietersen who felt that they couldn’t work with him tells you a lot. Apparently they were hardly the only senior players who felt that way. Even Swann, a junior player at the time stuck the boot in, in his autobiography about that training session following a tied match in New Zealand.

    What I can gauge from his time as a coach at Sussex and also at Lancashire is that the rank and file pros at both counties had a lot of time for his motivational skills. It seemed to work for them. However as a manager of talent I’m far less convinced about him. Think of Matt Prior when he was first selected in tests. A decent batsman already, but his keeping was poor with such lamentable initial foot movement meaning that he often flailed for catches that he should have been in position for far more comfortably. Peter Moores’s role when he played first class cricket was?

    Anyway Collingwood has now gone and stuck the boot in quite considerably saying that tactically England are a mess and that their thinking is outdated with players with flair seemingly not trusted. The article is on cricinfo. You can say that Colly has a bit of an agenda given the previous, but it is hard not to think he has more than a bit of a point.


  10. SimonH Feb 21, 2015 / 9:33 am

    “It was unacceptable. We are not looking for excuses. I think if you spoke to the players they would say that the preparation for this game was good but when it came to playing they just didn’t play and we have to accept that”.

    I haven’t been that critical of Moores and have felt that he was one of the few near the top of English cricket you could turn your back on and not later find a knife sticking out of it – but he is close to ‘I was good but unfortunately the players were rubbish’ there.


    • LordCanisLupus Feb 21, 2015 / 10:50 am

      “Not my fault ” again. Same tone as the last interview.


      • SimonH Feb 21, 2015 / 12:52 pm

        Nick Hoult on Moores and captains:

        “Another of his captains, Eoin Morgan, is struggling for form. Michael Vaughan, Paul Collingwood, Cook and now Morgan all found run making difficult while Moores was the head coach. The only one who did not struggle was Pietersen, partly because his tenure was brief, and he probably did not listen to Moores anyway”.



      • SimonH Feb 21, 2015 / 12:57 pm

        Hoult also quotes Moores saying:

        “We can tell them what we think, and we share, and that way we get blokes. We didn’t play like blokes”.


      • Arron Wright Feb 21, 2015 / 2:17 pm

        Is it sad that I know the exact episode and scene of Fawlty Towers without clicking on that link?

        (Actually, among my generation it’s probably perfectly normal)


  11. julie Feb 21, 2015 / 11:04 am

    Today spoke to a friend who was in Wellington at “the Cake Tin” yesterday His cricket affiliations allowed him to be near the cricketers.His major comment was that Eng team seemed lacking in confidence.Seemed to have no spirit and certainly were not enjoying the game .Now that reminds me of SCG and the last Ashes game.I was there each day right next to the boys.There was no spirit among the boys there either.No fun ‘no laughter Didn’t even hear KP whistling. Of course I didn’t realise what was going on with KP at the time either.The problem with England cricket is at the top and then filters down.Try as they may the boys are not a team and have no one to bring them together.They have had their core players taken away and so can only try to cope.How much happiness is there in the Eng dressing room now? No wonder they’re playing the way they are.


    • Simon K Feb 21, 2015 / 12:08 pm

      That’s badly written even by his often clumsy standards.


    • LordCanisLupus Feb 21, 2015 / 12:45 pm

      “The result – people like you are still as bitter and pompous as you’ve always been.”

      Physician. Heal thyself.


  12. hatmallet Feb 21, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    When Moores took over, he said he had learnt from his first spell. Like many, I gave him the benefit of the doubt – after all I don’t want England or individuals to fail – surely he would be much improved second time around.

    The management speak might seem inconsequential, but it suggests Moores is still overloading players and unintentionally clouding their minds.

    Stats are a vital part of cricket preparation at the top level – but they should be used to provide useful insights, not used without context to over-think situations. It’s quite sad to see Broad and Morgan quoting stats in interviews.

    But who can replace Moores? Most ex-players seem to go into the media. The Sky and TMS teams contain Atherton, Strauss, Butcher, Hussain, Gower, Vaughan, Botham, Willis, Swann – all excellent former players and Gough is with Talksport.

    Of those coaching, Thorpe doesn’t like travelling, Gooch has already been used and Ramprakash is now part of the set-up. Stewart is director of cricket at Surrey, Giles holds the same position at Lancs after his spell with England. Fraser has a role at Middlesex and is a selector. The other selector, Newell, didn’t play internationals, neither did Robinson who coaches the Lions and is well thought of.

    The ECB have Flower working with coaches at Loughborough, which shows they are recognising the need to develop coaches, but they should be very concerned of the lack of internationals turning to coaching.

    And even with a new coach, that wouldn’t solve the problem of the toxic culture and decision making at the top of the ECB. Downton and Clarke may not be the ones on the pitch, but culture does filter down. Much change is needed.


  13. SimonH Feb 21, 2015 / 3:13 pm

    George Dobell on the latest podcast with Peter Miller:


    • LordCanisLupus Feb 21, 2015 / 3:14 pm

      Listening to it now. It’s incredibly revealing and I’m just in 15 minutes.

      Hugh Morris “I always thought he was useless”.


      • SimonH Feb 21, 2015 / 4:21 pm

        Downton’s idea of consultation:

        “Collingwood won’t say what I want to hear – so I’m not asking”.


        • LordCanisLupus Feb 21, 2015 / 4:23 pm

          One of many gob-smackers. I’ll take a guess at the player Dobell refers to who the ECB “lied” about (er….Trott?) and then the leak bit…..well, we’ve been miles off beam, haven’t we…


      • Arron Wright Feb 21, 2015 / 4:23 pm

        That’s a must-listen.

        Not for the first time, compare Dobell and Selvey. They might as well be covering different sports.


      • Arron Wright Feb 22, 2015 / 3:24 pm

        I’d forgotten about this until reading Innocent Bystander’s tweets, but a few weeks ago we were all exercised by the shady deal that allowed a new post to be created for Giles Clarke.

        Now, several of us pointed out the differences in reporting between Selvey/the Guardian and not just Dobell, but Hoult/the Telegraph. I seem to remember one poster (Simon H or K I think) saying that he’d rarely read such a Pravdaesque piece on anything as this one in particular:


        And what did George say at about the same time?


    • ZeroBullshit Feb 21, 2015 / 5:16 pm

      What an interesting podcast! Thank you for posting this Simon. 🙂


      • Rohan Feb 21, 2015 / 8:27 pm

        Enjoyed that, let’s hope Dobell does release the piece the player asked him to hold back, at some point……


    • Bobo Feb 21, 2015 / 11:40 pm

      Good lord – that’s either the start of Dobell becoming the authority in English cricket or it’s the start of the end of his journalistic career.


      • LordCanisLupus Feb 21, 2015 / 11:48 pm

        Welcome on board Bobo.

        I have to admit there’s a part of me that thinks along those lines. Dobell is really being more openly hostile to much of the ECB power-brokers than pretty much anyone else, and you have to wonder if or when there might be consequences.

        I’m also a bit more intrigued about the change in the chief press officer at the ECB. In no way can they be said to have had a wonderful year, and Colin Gibson (an ex-Mail and Telegraph journalist before getting involved in the PR side with the FA, ICC and ECB) has been moved on. I’m not one for linking any pieces by Charlie Sale, because for the most part he comes across as vaguely inhabiting our planet, but he is saying Downton loves the RFU Press Officer from the 2011 World Cup, and it may be him in (or coming in). This may signal a change of attitude. The bit where Dobell said the press office got involved in the KP thing is either (a) utter lunacy or (b) unbelievable, Take your pick.


  14. thebogfather Feb 21, 2015 / 4:17 pm

    MooresThePityful, now found out
    Eoin was owing, now has been a has-been, never devout
    For the Florid Flower horrid
    Still reigns in hidden glower, ECB will out
    Cooking the principles, til the Iron-rod is ready
    To calm the sinking ship, with gentle snicks to slip, steady
    And thus Downtown shabby shall remain in place
    For ECB truth, will never be faced
    by the national press, who reside without confession
    As us outside, turn the tide, so listen to our lesson
    Better later than never
    maybe the start of truth forever?


  15. Silk Feb 21, 2015 / 9:55 pm

    Moores must stay until after the Ashes.

    Because if you sack Moores now, and we still lose the Ashes, who is there left to sack? Downton, that’s who. And that can’t happen.

    Peter Moores is Geoff Hoon and Downton is Blair. See http://www.theguardian.com/cartoons/stevebell/0,,1124025,00.html


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