Ambivalent

Rather than jot down some thoughts this lunchtime, I thought I’d rather take a seat in a quiet place and have a relaxation of the eyes. After all, you lot are doing all the talking for me.

Let me say a few things on the issues that seem to be exercising the minds of those on here, and those on Twitter. The thing is, I don’t care enough to get angry about them. In fact, I’m to be persuaded on many of them. The fact is, you don’t need to be stridently in favour of something to write about it. I think, sometimes, I make that mistake.

Take the associates. The attitude to them has been that they’ve been a blast of fresh air, and indeed, the games between them have been quite exciting, been well played and enjoyable. For that reason, they should remain. The reason they shouldn’t isn’t because of 2007 and the elimination of India and Pakistan after three games each. But let’s face it, all sport is about money. I’m never one for the person who believes fervently in something to say “it just is” as I tend to see when it comes to keeping the World Cup with a full quota of associates. Indeed I’ve seen sports writers who moan like billy-o when our precious England footballers have to play San Marino, who then go on about how wonderful the associate play is. I hate seeded draws, I hate anything that isn’t totally even playing field about sport. It drives me mad.

The key issue is that the game needs to spread worldwide, and yet there is a vested interest in keeping the status quo. If I were the West Indies I wouldn’t go near any of the teams below me in the World rankings with a barge pole. If I were England, I wouldn’t give a shit as we are one of the Big Three. I have no idea what the right answer is. What I know it isn’t is the status quo, and it’s not the line-up in 2019 either. But sorry, and leave the WIndies out of this for a minute, but I hate seeing teams have 400 piled upon them in World Cup cricket. I’m a batsman, I love great batting, but this is now so loaded in the batsman’s favour that when bowling is sub-par, it’s play-time for good players.

I don’t have the answers, but I’m not comfortable with seeing Australia wallop 417 against a clearly over-matched associate team. Start your engines, as I feel a tidal wave of dissent coming my way. I’m also not comfortable with the 2019 set-up as it is too long, and believe me, there will be dead games. I’m inclined to say there should be eight teams playing, but there should be a pre-qualifying tournament involving all nations. So Asia has a tournament with 10 teams, and three qualify for the finals – this gives a meritocracy, and also means the associate nations like Hong Kong, UAE, Afghanistan, Nepal, et al will get regular cricket against the big boys and have a chance to improve. It’s pie in the sky because no World Cup can conceivably go ahead without India, but let me dream.

I’ve not thought it through because others are doing all that. Maybe I’ll think some more. There’s just not a way through with the system as it is, and the lack of opportunity for associates to make that quantum leap across to get through.

As for bats, well it now makes the game similar to golf. With the development in golf club technology, classic old courses were becoming a joke to pros. Something needed to be done when the US Open, which was won with a score very close to Par over four rounds, saw Tiger Woods annihilate Pebble Beach and win with something like -18. St Andrews became a pitch and putt, Royal Liverpool didn’t require a driver. Old courses like Augusta were lengthened, and now the top championship courses are miles over 7000 yards as technology expanded the horizons. You can’t “un-know” these things.

In cricket we have stadia with pretty fixed dimensions so lengthening the boundaries isn’t an option. Nor is making the bat thinner, as the technology will get round that. So we need to think outside the box a little. Evening up pitches to make the contest fair between bat and ball is all well and good, but hardly definable. Loosening fielding restrictions will only increase those dead overs when batsmen milk 1s and 2s. Two new balls seem to mean the ball is harder to fly around the park at the end of the innings. Here’s a really silly suggestion. For ODI cricket, how about shortening the wicket a foot? Put in a fourth stump? Make the stumps a little higher? They are stupid suggestions, I know, but no more stupid than watching mis-hits fly for six, and so on. While I know a lot of you laugh at Scyld’s column, there’s something, sorry, rather dull than seeing some of this stuff. I am a massive baseball fan, but although I’m a batsman in cricket, I love the duel between pitcher and batsman. When the batters were juiced up, looking like weightlifters, the game went home-run mad. It was dull. It’s so much better to watch a 1-0 pitching duel, where scoring runs is hard, than seeing an 11-10 slugfest when it is easy. It’s a matter of taste. And for me, when it comes to evaluating innings like Warner’s 170-odd or Gayle’s 200, I look and think, that’s the equivalent of Sosa and McGwire back in the day.

I don’t expect you lot to agree, and given by your comments, you don’t, but I’m truly vexed on the issues. Maybe it’s because England don’t play that slugging game that I have the hump. Maybe it’s because I don’t like sporting bullying that I don’t know the answer on the associates. I haven’t seen the answers from anyone else.

Feel free to comment. I’m truly open-minded on the associates – and I do agree they need to play proper international cricket against full nations (for example, England, Scotland, Ireland and Netherlands play a European Cup – why not? Imagine the fun when we don’t win it…) – but I don’t think this format is the way, nor do I think the 2019 one is either. As for the bats…..

Oh well. I don’t pretend I’ve thought these through, so off you go….

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46 thoughts on “Ambivalent

  1. Annie Weatherly-Barton Mar 6, 2015 / 12:13 am

    Blimey me Lord where is everyone? That is a lot to take in and I will need to have a rest meself to be able to digest it all. One bit did jump out at me and that was having pre-tournament stages. That sounded quite good to me. I think if we do have move venue as well. It needs to be in a country where there is support for cricket but not the usual nations; definitely not the BIG THREE.

    Trouble is that there is a cartel in charge with of course Mr Clarke in charge – more or less – and he seems to be only interested in money and power-grabbing for himself and he co-partners. Whilst power is the ultimate aim then it will come with its corrupting influence. Only have to look at FIFA to see what happens. Basically, the wrong people are in charge of our game. Of course such people will be, undoubtedly from the right family with the right sort of background and/or have mega tons of money. It’s all a big sleazy not unlike those that walk the corridors of power. We need to nurture teams in other countries and help them to improve and have fun! I said elsewhere, I remember the Cameroon coming into the World Cup. Who are they? Well they were so lively and naturally talented in an all over the place sort of way. The next time they got into the WC they got to quarter finals. They were exciting to watch.

    We only have to look at our National game to see how the lovely game can be crippled and brought low with the wrong people, wrong attitude, power grabbing and money grabbing types. At the core I think it is the culture that has grown up within our game that may well, in the end, crush it till it disappears altogether. Imagine a world where the only places where cricket is loved and seen and open to all is in these countries that are treated as second or third class? Just because the so called important countries destroyed the game? Sorry to go on. This is probably late night/early morning crap. I don’t mind anyone telling me I have finally lost the plot. This old gal can take it.

    Hope you are feeling better me Lord. You are a star!!!

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  2. Mark Mar 6, 2015 / 12:45 am

    Why not just get rid of fielding restrictions and let captains go back to setting imaginative fields as they like?

    If the batsman want to keep trying their luck with men back then so be it and good luck?

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  3. Timmy Mar 6, 2015 / 1:43 am

    I am in complete disagreement with the big bats debate. There are too many variables that have changed over time that have contributed to the increase in scores.

    Forget the bats look at the batsman. Take for example, Ian Botham of 1992 World Cup final. Without being rude, this was a world-class player who was extremely rotund. He was not the only individual of that time who was less athlete and more a flotation device!

    Take today’s batsman, many of the big hitters are in perfect physical shape. Time spent doing weights has made a huge difference to strengths of batsman. Take for example Robin Uthappa, in the formative years of the IPL, he was an elegant traditional stroke maker. Few years on, physically he is a changed man. He has put on muscle; his range of strokes has vastly changed. He can now muscle the ball, to all areas of the park and more importantly out of the park.

    Attitudes have also changed over time. Let’s forget the English mentality for a second, I don’t mean the 300 is a good target attitude. With the increased funding in cricket and the huge sums being paid to professionals, batsmen have had to become innovative, manufacture shots. Take the dill scoop or the switch-hit, the upper cut on a short ball, batsmen now want to score and score heavy every ball. With data playing a big part, batsmen know every dot ball will be scrutinised post match, thus there is a hunger to score and score heavy all the time.

    The emergence of T20 has also added rocket fuel to the aggression that was growing within the ODI game. Batsmen are now able to carry over the aggression for the T20 games. If 200 can be scored in a 120 ball game, why is it so crazy to expect 350 in a 300 ball game?

    Sure bats have become thicker, more wood means a very heavy bat. If batsmen are comfortable holding a heavy bat facing a 90mph bowling, good luck to them. If they are skilled enough to middle that, one cannot say it’s the bat; credit must be given to the batsman.

    Finally, with two new balls and the rules regarding fielders as they are has meant batsmen who are stronger are hitting a harder ball in an area of the grass with no fielders nearby.

    All being said, one can argue with all things set against the bowler, they are also not helping themselves. Very few teams are actively seeking to take wickets, whilst in the modern game it involves risk of being hit for runs, wickets slows down the opposition. Instead teams are all set to try and minimise run scoring and forget to take wickets, which inevitably leads to masses of runs anyway. Furthermore, bowlers have generally forgotten the art of the Yorker. With batsmen being aggressive as they are, the margin of error when delivering the Yorker has dwindled, as a result there is almost a fear of bowling the Yorker. Bowlers should be practising the art of the Yorker but in matches all to often (especially with England) we get these slower ball bouncers, whilst effective the first time, teams now expect these fancy variations, non are guaranteed to be as effective as a Yorker in minimising a bats and scoring options, yet bowlers rarely go back to basic in their armoury!

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    • SimonH Mar 6, 2015 / 10:33 am

      “put on muscle”.

      I’m in agreement with most of what you’ve written there Timmy but just want to follow through on the implications of the increased importance of ‘muscle’ which I’m sure is true. Players are no doubt putting on muscle through hard work and legitimate means. But we all know there are tempting short cuts to putting on muscle as well.

      Last year not a single cricketer failed an ICC drug test. It stretches credulity that nothing is going on. How rigorous is the regime? (Genuine question – anyone know what it entails?). Sports (not just cricket) have a dilemma that if they have a tough regime and some players fail the tests that sport gains the perception that it has “a drugs’ problem”. I don’t know the answer but I know that never mentioning the issue isn’t it.

      (While I’m writing this Tim Abraham is reporting from the England camp – he’s said that Bell and Ali had been practicing batting together so that doesn’t suggest Hales coming in as opener. Nick Hoult also seemed to be suggesting Bopara was the more likely option yesterday)

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      • Timmy Mar 6, 2015 / 11:24 am

        As far as I am aware, ICC have signed up to WADA, thus they face the same testing as as most sports such as Tennis or Rugby.

        http://www.icc-cricket.com/about/51/anti-doping/overview

        Unlike many sports, I think in cricket putting on muscle is pretty easy. Cricketers are athletes who are not in a race to reach the pinnacle of what their body will allow. Say cycling, the onus is on how fit their bodies are to cycles 100+km everyday for two weeks or so. Cricketers don’t need the excess that doping provides, they need just the increased strength a good few months provides in the gym.

        That does not stop the small individuals who still may dope. I do believe cricket has more of an issue with recreational drugs then doping.

        In the aftermath of Tom Maynard’s death, ECB and PCA carried out drug tests within 18 counties, those who failed the test by taking recreational drugs where given counselling and their identical were kept secret!

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      • SimonH Mar 6, 2015 / 11:39 am

        Thanks for the reply and the info.

        Unfortunately, I’m not too confident about what’s been going on in some of those other sports either!

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      • Mark Mar 6, 2015 / 1:52 pm

        Simon, I was reading on a web site a few months ago a discussion about drugs in sport. (I have no idea how accurate it was) but they we’re talking about the role of personal trainers. Apparently personal and professional trainers are the insiders in what is really going on. They know who is and what is being taken.

        A surprise to me was the allegation that one of the sports with a lot of drug use is golf! They are not pumping up on steroids but taking downers like beater blockers to calm down heart rates. And I believe that the professional golf associations don’t drug test.

        I offer it up for,what it’s worth…..

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  4. BrianKC Mar 6, 2015 / 7:40 am

    First time comment, although a reader for a while.
    New Zealand have bowled two of the Big 3 out for less than 300 combined so they must be doing something different. To balance it up, ease the fielding restriction and change the bowlers overs limits. you dont see ABDV having to retire when he has scored so many do you. Let bowlers bowl up to 15 or 20 overs with the proviso that you still have to use 5 bowlers.
    Oh well, back to work

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  5. Tuffers86 Mar 6, 2015 / 10:19 am

    My thoughts on the topics LCL has raised:

    Associates and beyond

    In an ideal and just world where the sport is more important than cash, Full Members should be charged with the responsibility of developing an assigned associate with the ultimate goal of getting them to Test status — if that remains the chief criteria of full membership

    So,

    England would get Ireland and Scotland up and running
    India develops Nepal
    Pakistan somehow does a “do as we say, not as we do” type of thing with the UAE and Afghanistan
    South Africa can get Zimbabwe’s house in order and reignite Kenyan cricket
    There’s no reason why PNG is miles off the associates radar with NZ and Aus in the neighbourhood. Perhaps Australia could be the taskforce sent to China. Their politicians are bolshy enough on the world stage these days.

    But this is a mere pipe dream. The only way the US or even Canada will enter the fray is through Indian diaspora doing its thing and bring cricket through immigration.

    The big ticket cricket missed out on was efforts to get Olympic status. That automatically triggers government funding in loads of countries. (See Rugby Sevens and participation)

    Big bats, bowlers and ODI format

    Peter Miller and Dave Tickner’s latest podcast addresses the absurdity of big bat theory. No one has really spoke to the bat makers or the players. We’re relying on the press assuming things again. A wild suggestion Miller and Tickner came out with is scrapping fielding restrictions!

    Remember when Viv used to cream it miles? Remember how big he was compared to say, a Gower? Every team has a Viv or three. The fitness, size of players (especially their forearms) these days is unprecedented.

    I actually think the new changes to ODI cricket is great. It has refreshed a format I was losing interest in — the slow UAE pitches and Pakistan were helping that.

    My opinion is there are not many world class bowlers on the circuit at the minute. NZ has two, Australia has one and one in the making. Saffers have Steyn who has been a bit off the boil at times. After that, it is a much of a muchness.

    I’ve never seen such ruthlessness from batsman dispatching shite bowling. Bowlers and bolwing coaches need a rethink.

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    • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 10:42 am

      Just on the point about a lack of world class bowlers around, I always find this intriguing. How we perceive quality is always with reference to the quality of those facing them. No one ever said 30 years ago that there was a lack of world class batsmen, or that the general standard of it was lower, we only ever hear this when batsmen are on top. Mortaza would look like SF Barnes if he was bowling against us lot, it’s completely a relative issue. So how come no one says there’s a glut of great batsmen instead? It’s always a negative when it’s put like this, but if bowlers are on top, we always hear about their greatness – never, ever, ever is it put the other way around.

      It’s the same with the pace of the bowling, there’s a belief that bowlers of 40 years ago were quicker than those now. I don’t think that’s very likely. It’s possible, but every other field of elite sport has shown people getting faster, yet cricket is apparently immune to that, despite all the improvements in training and biomechanics? It seems very unlikely.

      I think it’s far more likely that Harold Larwood was bowling at the same speed as Jimmy Anderson, but at the time that was searingly quick.

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      • Tuffers86 Mar 6, 2015 / 11:23 am

        Yes, you are right in saying that there are some very very good batsmen around. Exploitative batsmen. But they’re hardly being troubled by the dross being served to them with hi-tech bats or not.

        My formative years as an avid cricket fan was when everyone had at least a pair of cracking bowlers – even England’s bowling attack in the dark days of the mid to late 90s was a competent set with Gough and Caddick. It made the game great.

        Add the fact that the mystery spinners have been driven out of the game, like some type of Spanish Inquisition and you get tepid, blunted bowling corps that all feel and look the same. England, being England, typifies it.

        I loved Wasim/Waqar Courtney and Curtly, McGrath and various artists. Donald and Pollock. Even India had a handy guy in Srinath. 20 years on and there is hardly a bowling attack that matches them. That’s pretty much the point I’m making.

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      • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 11:30 am

        Yes, but I’m positing that you can’t say that – we only perceive the quality in the bowling on the basis of who they are bowling to. If the overall standard of batting was a bit lower back then, then bowlers are going to look better. It’s entirely a function of the relative quality at any given moment of the two disciplines.

        So it could simply be that the batting now is better, and thus the bowling doesn’t look so potent. There’s absolutely no way of determining it one way or the others, it’s purely a matter of our perception.

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      • d'Arthez Mar 6, 2015 / 12:32 pm

        Add in the pitch factor. I do get the impression that pitches are easier to bat on now than they were 30 years ago. How hard it must have been to bat on the pitches of 100 years ago, compared to today.

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      • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 12:36 pm

        So many variables! You can drive yourself insane with it all. I guess all I would say is that in 1936 Jesse Owens broke the 100m world record with a time of 10.2 seconds. The current world record is 9.58 seconds.

        I suspect cricket has had a similar improvement, both in batting and bowling.

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      • d'Arthez Mar 6, 2015 / 1:17 pm

        It is relatively easy to notice improvement on say 100 metres sprint. You have one real variable to contend with, since the tracks hardly evolve, if at all. The rest is all down to the athlete. There are a few minor ones, such as wind, altitude, shoes, etc., but these variables will be the same if not highly similar to the other 7 athletes in a race.

        In sports that have variables such as weather, pitch conditions, teams (rather than individuals competing), there are a ton of other things to consider. Some of which really impact on each other as well.

        Would tiki-taka football be as effective, or even possible on pitches that were rough and uneven? Probably not. Would Barcelona still be able to beat most opposition despite rougher and uneven pitches than they’d prefer? Most definitely.

        You can make a ton of arguments on Messi’s club records. But Messi’s club records cannot be seen in isolation of whom he plays with. It is not like he is partnering up with say Emile Heskey.

        The stats “goals / game” or “batting average” are deceptive. They measure one thing, but shorn from the context, these figures mean little, and do not appreciate the full context of the game. To make a 50 on a 200 pitch is more impressive than making a 100 on a 500 pitch.

        Because of the complexities involved, and all the nuances, there is hardly a way in which debates such as Lara vs Tendulkar, or Anderson vs Botham vs Trueman can be conclusively settled. The first is mostly a comparison in the same era, the second is of course made harder by the fact that these players played in completely different eras.

        What is probably happening is that the batsmen got better over time, but so did the bowlers. As such, the measures (such as averages) did not really fluctuate that much on a per-era basis, after WW1. There are differences though, and I think (I have not checked the stats) that the 1960s batting averages where markedly higher than before. Could simply be a case of negative batting predominating. As impressive as Sobers’ allround record is, his bowling SR was just 92.

        But the lack of differentiation up to fairly decent times, seems also to suggest that the contest between bat and ball was fairly even. The impression now is that it is slowly changing. And I just think it is nonsense to just blame the bats.

        Not sure how fast Larwood was. I know one thing for certain: it must have taken great courage to face him. And that is something that has not changed through the years: proper fast bowlers are an intimidating prospect.

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      • Timmy Mar 6, 2015 / 1:32 pm

        D’ARTHEZ, I would argue even 100m sprints are hard to judge as again technology has changed the conditions for modern athletes.

        The following is from the Guardian:

        What’s all this about this being a fast track?
        London 2012 has seen records and personal bests tumble in the main stadium on Friday, thanks in part to a new track design which features technology that aims to rebound energy from the sideways movement of athletes’ feet, including little toes and the side of the foot. In Beijing the track was designed to maximise the rebound when runners pushed forward and backwards, but the inevitable sideways movement was effectively lost energy. A special underlay is patterned with rhombus-shaped ridges to increase the track’s reaction to lateral movement.

        http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2012/aug/05/olympic-facts-100m-sprint

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      • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 1:37 pm

        I think you’re missing what I’m referring to. I’m not definitely saying anything about people now being better than 80 years ago, and of course something like the 100m is easier to measure. What I am saying is that it’s often claimed that someone like Larwood is the fastest of them all, or that Lillee and Thomson were. Now that’s perfectly possible, but it would go against the grain of every single example in sport where you CAN measure it.

        Where it doesn’t make a difference is in that someone can only play in the era that they are in. And if they had been born in 1990 rather than 1890 then they would have likely succeeded just as well, because they would have had the same talent, in a different era.

        It doesn’t mean for a moment one is better than the other, any more than you can say Usain Bolt is better than Jesse Owens. But cricket is the only sport I know of that makes this kind of claim, that people of a century ago were every bit as quick as those now.

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      • d'Arthez Mar 6, 2015 / 4:21 pm

        Thanks for that link Timmy. I truly, truly, did not expect something of the sort to have happened.

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      • metatone Mar 6, 2015 / 6:14 pm

        @Vian

        On the one hand, I agree that it’s unlikely that the fastest bowlers of today are slower than those of yesteryear. You can do frame by frame analysis of bowlers because film and TV have defined refresh rates and do rough calculations – I wonder if anyone has?

        However, I think it’s possible to look within a generations bowling and ask useful questions. For example, Mitchell Starc is a good pick (I haven’t done any systematic search, so happy for you to nominate someone else) as the fastest bowler in the tournament. From there, you can ask – how many are up with him? And then compare that to previous eras. Key point being, I think you’ll find that we’ve had eras where more bowlers were around the top level, whereas at the moment, there;s a clear gap between a small number of true fast bowlers and a bunch of Andersons (to coin a collective noun.)

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      • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 7:17 pm

        It’s entirely open to interpretation and belief. You could well be right, I simply don’t know.

        Realistically, we can only do a comparison over the last 15 or 20 years when speed guns and other technology became widespread. It will be fascinating to see what happens over the next 30 years – whether it all stays much the same as now or if it goes up.

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    • metatone Mar 6, 2015 / 9:36 pm

      3 issues:

      1) There was a piece about baseball pitching and the strength of ligaments – we’ve probably been at the limits of speed and have been for a long time. (I’ve observed this before, most of our training techniques are good at improving muscles, but less effective with connective tissue.)

      2) Actually, film analysis done right is more accurate than speed guns. It’s a testament to the laziness of the cricket press and community that more hasn’t been done on this issue. (I know more about this than most, as I’ve used a whole host of these techniques for analysis in both aerospace and football applications.)

      3) If we look at the 15-20 years of speed gunnery, we find that 2003-2005 was a golden era. Don’t know whether it was juiced radars, but if we take the radar telemetry as well done, we’ve regressed since then markedly…

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  6. d'Arthez Mar 6, 2015 / 10:24 am

    Going after the technology won’t work. Modern bats are not particularly heavy. It is just that they’re far more efficient than the bats of 20-30 years ago. As such the transferral of momentum is a lot better, and that means that balls will sail further.

    No point in being Quichottic about it.

    The problem is that ODIs are hopelessly artificially contrived. There are a ton of restrictions (bowler’s quotas, 2 new balls, so almost certainly no reverse swing), fielding restrictions, Powerplays, harsh wide restrictions, etc.

    Compare that with Test cricket, where the only fielding restrictions in place are to avoid Bodyline.

    Most of these restrictions make the game more formulaic, not less.

    It would greatly help if the ICC reduced the artificial constraints greatly. Put your fielders wherever you want (with the exception of Bodyline – you don’t want teams bowling like that). If a captain thinks that putting 8 men on the boundary will help, let him try. It is not like a batsman should be unable to pick up 2s and 3s in that case. The best of them will find a way.

    Bowl whoever you want. As for the argument that that may favour spinners over quicks, maybe. So? One can just as easily argue that the current restrictions favour quicks, and batsmen who can turn their arm over a bit in particular, over spinners. The format promotes too many bits and pieces players.

    A pet peeve of mine:
    Front-foot no balls get a free hit, even if the call is wrong. Or they simply get missed, like what happened no fewer than three times to Zimbabwe in the game against Pakistan. While beamers get a simple no-ball call but no free hit. It would make more sense that beamers were punished with the free-hit, and the front-foot no ball without a free hit.

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  7. SimonH Mar 6, 2015 / 12:58 pm

    Good point from Ali Martin in the Guardian’s Talking Points of the WC week about England’s supposed lack of sticking with players:

    “England [are] actually the second most loyal team in the top six of the ICC rankings behind Sri Lanka when it comes to the ratio of players used to matches played in the four years between World Cups. The numbers are not wide-ranging either, with the following deployed during that time: India 49 players used in 99 matches, Australia 43 in 83, Sri Lanka 42 in 118, New Zealand 36 in 62, England 34 in 82, South Africa 33 in 69”.

    The idea that we don’t show enough continuity in selection drives me up the wall. The traumas of the 1990s are still with us…..

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    • LordCanisLupus Mar 6, 2015 / 1:01 pm

      I think Ali has really hit the ground running at the graun. Watch out incumbents. He’s better than you.

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      • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 1:47 pm

        Yes, he’s made a good start. It’s a big break for him, so let’s hope he grabs it.

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      • northernlight71 Mar 6, 2015 / 1:49 pm

        My 5 year old daughter reasons and analyses better than some at the Guardian.
        About music and DIsney films, admittedly, not cricket. But the principle talent is there 🙂

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    • Tregaskis Mar 6, 2015 / 7:01 pm

      I feel there is another possible story not being revealed by these statistics. Without deep analysis and in no particular order – England have continually selected injured or unfit players and patched them up, when other nations may have brought new names into the frame while the maimed recuperated. England may have drawn on a relatively small group, but they have subjected these players to yo-yo selection practices. It is as though England do not trust anyone outside the group, but nor do they much trust a significant section of the players within the group. Apart from, say, Ali, Root, Buttler, Morgan (for now), Broad and Anderson, the players are continually in and out of the team or in and out of position. This does not exhibit player loyalty but muddle and inconsistency of purpose.

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      • metatone Mar 6, 2015 / 9:40 pm

        Tregaskis! This, a thousand times this.
        If anything has nearly got me banned for insulting Selvey it’s been spats over this issue.
        We’ve been selecting unfit bowlers for years… I particularly recall Sidebottom in NZ. (Note, coach of the time, Peter Moores…)

        Of course, we were even worse before central contracts, we lost a lot of opportunities because we regularly could not put out our best bowling attack…

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  8. Tregaskis Mar 6, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    Grey Nicolls have been quite vocal about the big-bat debate. They suggest that modern bat technology is adding as little as 5% efficiency over earlier models. Everything else is down to changes in the physique, attitude and skill levels of the modern batter, and the evolution of diverse non-player considerations, such as shorter boundaries.

    The debate over the CWC format is swamping my Twitter timeline, and there seem to be more alternative format suggestions than there are members of the UN. Two main themes seem to be emerging. First, that the CWC2019 format is not the answer since it is self serving in favour of full members and not serving the advancement of associates. After all, some of the least competitive matches in the current world cup have been between full members. Secondly, the world cup is only part of the picture. If the associates are to truly improve and if cricket is to develop more widely, the associate need to play more ODIs against full member during the years between world cups.

    For those who think reducing the CWC2019 to 10 teams is the wrong direction of travel, I recommend signing the following petition, which has attracted 19,000 signatures to date – https://www.change.org/p/international-cricket-council-reverse-the-decision-to-reduce-the-2019-world-cup-to-ten-teams

    Like

  9. SimonH Mar 6, 2015 / 4:39 pm

    The Guardian rounding off a week of unparalleled cricket coverage (I’ve certainly never seen anything like it) by asking three former England cricketers where England are going wrong:

    http://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2015/mar/06/england-cricket-world-cup-struggles

    Bob Willis? Okay – although his views aren’t exactly a new discovery to most. Owais Shah – I was a fan of his as a batsman but as a reader of the game? Didn’t he captain Middlesex for about three matches and get the sack after putting Glos in and they scored about 700? Still, he might bring something new to the party (he doesn’t).

    And the third? My oh my. We are of course familiar with his work. He only manages to insinuate twice in a relatively short piece that dropping Alastair Cook was a mistake. Yes the Guardian concludes that what its cricket coverage needs is added….. Derek Pringle.

    Like

    • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 5:18 pm

      I think Derek Pringle is extremely available at the moment, that’s the thing.

      Like

      • Tregaskis Mar 6, 2015 / 7:10 pm

        Vian – “I think Derek Pringle is extremely available at the moment, that’s the thing.”

        Curious that he has not yet learned what it was that made him extremely available in the first place.

        Like

      • Vian Mar 6, 2015 / 7:14 pm

        Quite so. People losing their jobs is a terrible thing, but there’s a certain irony in him not knowing why he’d been dismissed and finding out from Scyld Berry who phoned him to apologise for being the one chosen before the Telegraph told him.

        As many said in the comments when he was being as vicious as ever – what goes around comes around.

        Like

  10. SimonH Mar 6, 2015 / 4:53 pm

    Newman reports:

    “Alex Hales, who batted with Gary Ballance in a match scenario today in what appeared to be a ‘shoot-out’ between the two, looked in terrible touch both in the middle against England’s bowlers and later in a net.
    Meanwhile Ravi Bopara, banished the day before England opened up against Australia, cut a forlorn figure as he faced some of the worst net bowling imaginable from the enthusiastic locals”.

    Doesn’t sound promising for Hales knowing how important “looking good in the nets” is in the England lexicon.

    Newman also mentions that Tredwell had a long bowl which may mean something but probably doesn’t.

    Like

  11. metatone Mar 6, 2015 / 6:06 pm

    On the Associates – as others have noted, there are two issues here. The WC and what happens the rest of the time.

    At the WC, I think you could stay with the current number of associates and improve things by being braver with the scheduling. The tournament is too long and too boring because of the format, not the number of teams. Play 2 games a day.

    However, if cutting down to 2 associates teams was needed to form an agreement about out of WC games for associates, I’d take it. As that’s the killer. It’s be a good start to make every “Full Member” team play 2 ODIs against associates every year. Let the Full Members play B teams if they like, but get the games happening.

    Like

  12. metatone Mar 6, 2015 / 6:34 pm

    In terms of too high scores, it seems pretty clear that it would be worth experimenting with 1 ball instead of 2. It’s an experiment that would be really easy to conduct, so I’ll be pretty annoyed if it doesn’t happen before the next big tournament.

    Fielding restrictions are hard, as there’s a balance between the boringness of the middle overs and the advantage given to batsmen. However, they would seem to be the big issue. After all, the reason scoring rate in Tests (which has also increased) isn’t the same as ODIs is in part because of the field settings.

    I think it could be interesting, tactically, to raise the over/bowler ratio.
    After all, there is no maximum, so if you let each bowler bowl 15 overs, you’d be mandating 4, but teams would have to play that off against fatigue and variety. It could force batsmen to consider taking more risks against the better bowlers, rather than seeing them off.

    Bowling quality is an issue, I outlined in a reply to Vian reasonable ground to believe that we’re not at a high point of bowling. However, it’s worth noting that some of the most unplayable balls in this tournament have basically been yorkers. In essence, the pitches are not helping at all. However you define a “fair” pitch, it seems clear that this is not it…

    Like

    • d'Arthez Mar 6, 2015 / 8:32 pm

      A few years ago, there was a mandatory ball change after the 34th over in ODIs. That would be the second new ball. Apparently they still can’t make a white ball that lasts 50 overs.

      So it has been done before.

      If they still can’t make a ball that lasts 50 overs, why not give the fielding side the opportunity to call for a ball change, anywhere from between over 16 and 34. At the 34 overs mark, it becomes mandatory if it has not been done before.

      You’d have the same thing as before, but at least it would be slightly less formulaic. Sure, it is not an ideal solution, but then at least you can spice things up in the middle overs by having a ball that actually reverses …

      Like

      • Timmy Mar 7, 2015 / 12:58 am

        That’s the best idea I have read in ages. Letting the bowling side decide when to use a second new ball. Giving the bowling side that descision some control to redress the balance from batsmen.

        This idea like many will be too complicated for the ICC!

        Like

  13. thebogfather Mar 7, 2015 / 12:54 pm

    Silly suggestion… as white balls are useless for bowlers, let’s play 50 over tournaments during the day in whites…. leave the pyjama 20/20 for all of the fake additions of powerplays, fielding restrictions etc – (ok, I’m an oldie/outside… but grew up on Barry Richards/Gordon Greenidge/Andy Roberts,( later Malcolm Marshall) at Hampshire)

    Like

  14. SimonH Mar 7, 2015 / 10:22 pm

    From George Dobell’s latest:

    “Of most concern has been the lack of contribution of England’s two senior bowlers. The pitch map of James Anderson and Stuart Broad this World Cup resembles a Seurat painting – blotches everywhere – with Eoin Morgan admitting the short length they have bowled has been a result of human error more than a tactic. Both will be instructed to pitch much fuller in Monday’s game. “It’s not been a policy or a tactic,” Morgan said”.

    So, if it’s not a tactic does that make it better or worse?

    “England are not certain to alter their selection, though. While Gary Ballance, drafted into the team at the start of the tournament having enjoyed very little cricket in previous months, has looked short of form and contributed only 36 runs in four innings, the team management believe he has recovered his form in the nets…. Morgan said…… “It is a big decision to change anyone in the side and it won’t be taken lightly or quickly.””

    “Quickly”? That’s an understatement. “Form in the nets”? FFS. “England are not certain to alter their selection”? Well, you can see why when you’ve found such a magic formula you wouldn’t change it.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Mar 7, 2015 / 10:43 pm

      The elimination posts, if it happens prior to the semi-final, are going to be entertaining, aren’t they?

      Like

      • SimonH Mar 7, 2015 / 11:46 pm

        Blimey, Vic Marks has written something!

        “Gary Ballance, catapulted into the side for the first game against Australia, has failed four times. That punt, to which the tour selectors have obstinately adhered, has not worked. They will have to replace him”.

        His faith that failing four times in the middle matters is touching, really.

        Like

      • SimonH Mar 8, 2015 / 2:11 am

        Brenkley thinks it’s going to be no change for Bangladesh. He isn’t pleased and doesn’t forget that it isn’t only about the batting:

        “it is difficult to see why the bowling attack should be retained en bloc, instead of being taken to the chopping block. Only Chris Woakes of the seamers has approached adequacy”.

        Like

  15. SimonH Mar 8, 2015 / 12:28 am

    Scott Murray:

    “The importance of getting on with your colleagues is ludicrously overplayed. Alfredo Di Stéfano thought Ferenc Puskas was a fat, lazy knacker, but it didn’t stop the pair scoring seven goals between them in the 1960 European Cup final. None of the Beatles were talking to each other in 1969, with one of them all strung out on heroin, but Abbey Road isn’t half bad. They even managed to string eight songs together into a quarter-hour medley, for goodness sake.

    And journalists getting on their high horse about Pietersen’s supposed social dysfunctionality is beyond satire. Throw a rock in any direction in any newsroom, and you’ll hit someone who everyone else in that newsroom would like to hit with a rock”.

    Not a particularly brilliant article overall but one of the first comments inquiring if he’s told Selvey is genius.

    Like

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