I thought I’d update the first part. So, here goes…..
If any of you have ever seen the youtube clip of the fake caller on the OJ Simpson stand-off over two decades ago, you may recall one of his phrases being “this is quite the commotion”.
This sums up England cricket in five words. This is quite the commotion. I thought I’d take a few minutes out of my day, on my lunch break, to review where we are at this time. It’s like an episode of that (in)famous US programme of a byegone era called Soap. All this, and more, will become clear….
Last year England lost the Ashes 5-0. This isn’t the greatest humiliation an England team faced. It was, in fact, a difficult winter.
As a result, the coach of the test team resigned. He was not the coach of the ODI or T20 team. We have separate coaches.
As a result the coach of the test team took on a supremo role with purpose not clear, at the behest of the new MD, who had not taken over, but was about to.
This new Managing Director had been appointed, and on his gardening leave (or whatever) watched a three-day test at the fag end of a disaster. Sorry, a difficult winter.
As a result of these observations, and in concert with an outgoing coach, Kevin Pietersen was identified as a problem to deal with. Kevin Pietersen had scored the most runs by an England player in that series.
As a result of this observation of disengagement, Pietersen was told that England were moving on without him. This was despite him having a contract until the end of September.
As a result, Pietersen sought freedom from his contract to earn money in the IPL and CPL, rather than be tied to a contract with no prospect of playing.
As a result, England excluded their top runscorer on the previous tour. This should not be confused with being a scapegoat.
The captain remained unchallenged despite 10 tests passing since his last century and, of course, a 5-0 loss.
After the sacking, there was much comment. Much commotion. Then a statement was issued. We should desist. We were outside cricket. The sanctity of the dressing room had been broken. We were told that the ECB were anal about leaks. We believed anal referred to the orifice from which this piece of excrement was emitted.
And the press did ignore the outside cricket comment and did not comment on the sanctity of the dressing room, except to tell us to pipe down, and claim good journalism.
Meanwhile Downton spoke. About a supermarket. And stakeholders. And fresh and exciting. Then he disappeared.
The Chairman of the ECB declared that Cook came from the right kind of family, to much amusesment. He also advised people to “move on”, which is not to be confused with “shoo, shoo, peasant”.
Given the Chairman of Selectors had resigned, a new Chairman was in place. His name is James Whitaker. His qualification to select and not select? One test cap. Hurrah. When put in front of the camera to discuss his first squad, his phone rang. And there was much merriment.
Now, after the test coach had resigned, the ODI coach was seen as favourite to get the job as test coach, ODI coach and T20 coach. However, mutterings early in the piece suggested a former coach, who had been the former test coach’s coach, should become coach again, because the preceding test coach had fallen out with the existing ODI coach, and the preceding test coach had an important role in deciding the next test, ODI and T20 coach. Got that?
We had new selectors. One was a coach who did not get on with Kevin Pietersen. He was also a county coach so invested in development that a potential international player, the player of a remarkable innings, had to be farmed out on loan. Thereupon he played an ancient Aussie instead. The world looked on, and barely cared.
The new test, ODI and T20 coach was appointed. The preceding ODI coach, not allowed to pick his primary T20 player, did not succeed, and in a final humiliation lost to the Netherlands and proved his ECB credentials by apologising to stakeholders. This provided enough justification to deny the ODI coach the full coaching position, and employ the former coach, the preceding coach’s coach, as new head coach.
That the new coach, like the preceding coach, but unlike the ODI coach, had disagrements with Pietersen in the past, provied crucial when he was appointed coach. Mention of Kevin Pietersen was not allowed.
The new MD, now not on official gardening leave, called the former coach, who had been sacked before the preceding coach took over, “the best coach of his generation”. Or was it finest. Who cares? There was aplomb all round. There was much merriment in the press at the conference.
Then we lost an ODI series to Sri Lanka, where we played dull cricket and Alastair Cook scored few runs. There was a Mankad, and Alastair was not pleased. There was much amusement.
Then we drew the first test, which we would have won but for “six inches of carry”, and Alastair Cook scored few runs. Do not mention anything about conservative declarations.
Then we lost the second test, where we held a sizeable first innings lead, saw brainless bowling and braindead captaincy on Day 4, and lost with a a ball remaining (if we had survived two more balls, added to a few inches of carry = test series win), and Alastair Cook scored few runs. However he was superb on Day 5, when he did not take the field.
Then we backed our captain, and also backed a former captain who uttered a naughty word on TV about Kevin Pietersen. Can’t be happy about that.
We drew the first test against India, which was dull and featured 10th wicket partnerships, and Alastair Cook made few runs.
By this time, our MD had looked up the meaining of the word Confidentiality in a dictionary.
We lost the second test against India, on the back of abject first day leadership, and poor batting on Day 5, and Alastair Cook made few runs.
But he was a man made of steel. Or is it iron? He had a core of iron and steel. He wanted it bad.
Then, there was a miracle. Cook scored 95 runs in Test Number 3, and there was much rejoicing.
He followed it up with another 70 or so in the second innings, and India were vanquished. Whole religions have been founded on less. Forever 95. No-one shall make that score and be worthy of it. He was “back in prime form”.
There then followed the 4th Test, and another win, with great comfort, and then the 5th test, with a repeat. In the 5th, Cook made another half century, although he was dropped a few times. But there was much rejoicing. The KP crowd could shut up. They had had their words shoved down their throats. They were muppets. In this world, calling people paying to watch the game this, is called sound business logic.
Meanwhile, KP was not scoring runs in T20 cricket and was booed on Finals Day. And there was much merriment.
On the back of the amazing turnaround, facilitated by a good environment, we went on to be humped in an ODI series against India. Alastair Cook made few runs, and questions were asked in the parish. “Not going anywhere” said the powers that be. Test series win. Good environment. Exciting and fresh.
Squad named for Sri Lanka tour, and Cook is named captain. No doubts…..