Midnight City

Nothing much from me this weekend. Been busy getting stuff ready for my holiday in a few weeks, had lots of little jobs to do, and getting my sport dvd database in as good a way as I can. Have a fair bit of cricket…

I’m thankful you all found things to talk about over the weekend, and must admit I’m writing this with little in mind. It’s a short ramble before I go to bed.

One has to question an opposition that gets skittled for 59 and then allows England to make 180 odd for 1. I mean, really? It takes me back to the last 40 over game I ever played. We played it on a wicket used a couple of days before for a county game at Southgate, and we were playing a team we knew were massively stronger than us. Said to the skipper “win the toss, bat first, and we can have this over with in short order”. I’m a realist. He lost the toss. They batted. Their opener made 189 not out, they got 360 in their 40 overs, and to be fair to the bully, he never made a lot of it, but still. What pleasure can you derive from smashing muppets?

Lots more important stuff will be on the way for next week, so I’ll see what I can do. Cheers for all the words….

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55 thoughts on “Midnight City

  1. Tuffers86 Apr 6, 2015 / 11:56 pm

    It’s just a little warm up game. Not even first class, which is really starting to irk me a little for a couple of reasons.

    Firstly, touring sides should be playing first class and list A cricket, secondly you have arseholes like that Rory Dollard at the Press Association making nonsense grandiose remarks about achievements should something happen. Case point 1 – that “record one-day score” by Bell pre-World Cup.

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  2. Tuffers86 Apr 6, 2015 / 11:59 pm

    Oh and funny you should mention your playing days, the best thing I read on the Guardian over the weekend was the art of amateur captaincy. A few amusing anecdotes and BTL were on good form too.

    However, it was a extract from The Nightwatchman quarterly so don’t get hopes up! No link, posting on the fly but it’s worth digging out.

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  3. MM Apr 7, 2015 / 12:00 am

    What pleasure can you derive from smashing muppets?

    Loads of pleasure gets derived if it helps justify comments like ‘greatest batsman ever’ about the captain.

    Glad to see Stokes playing a decent part, though… and Tredwell, the spin bowling Terminator. Harrumph.

    Like

  4. Mark Apr 7, 2015 / 12:46 am

    You shouldn’t really have to apologise when you haven’t written anything for a few days/hours. It amazes me you can find the time to write so often and with such detail.

    The posters who have reacted against the TFT argument seem like the usual pro ECB suspects. They conveniently forget it was Broad who made the ludicrous claim in the first place about Cook. And the ” you can prove anything with stats” argument is tedious because you know if Cook had been banging out hundred after hundred they would be happy to use stats as a tool.

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    • Arron Wright Apr 7, 2015 / 6:37 am

      One of those posters (you all know who) is perhaps best known for an equally long piece explaining why *he* doesn’t like KP. Except it’s all subjective and not based on numbers. Same poster can currently be found on Twitter saying KP never won a Test v McGrath (no, only secured an Ashes) and that Warne “embarrassed” KP at Adelaide (during a 158 in which the bowler was forced to go on the defensive, no?). He is one of the most prejudiced writers out there and should be called out for it.

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      • LordCanisLupus Apr 7, 2015 / 6:53 am

        He used to love him and also says he is neutral. Then twists himself in knots to diminish his record. It’s a wonder to behold.

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  5. thebogfather Apr 7, 2015 / 7:03 am

    Oh dear, a complete Easter fluffy-bunny report of day 1 in the G – We may have a new ‘insider’ to make us scream/laugh in Chris ‘Laughing’ Stocks…

    Like

    • Arron Wright Apr 7, 2015 / 7:35 am

      Ben Stokes’s comment on Cook: classic bubblethink there!

      Like

    • SimonH Apr 7, 2015 / 9:15 am

      wctt on the thread has just added his wisdom that the quality of bowling was about the same as D2 in the CC.

      By the way, has anyone noticed on Stocks’ Twitter profile he says he is Cook’s former ghost writer?

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Apr 7, 2015 / 9:40 am

        Yes, not to mention the Downton juggernaut own-page header pic – I do hope he’s jesting rather than being the fool…

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    • Arron Wright Apr 7, 2015 / 11:15 am

      DDB has excelled himself today with one particular comment.

      #morefunforme

      Like

  6. @pktroll Apr 7, 2015 / 7:27 am

    I am expecting the usual rather poor performance from England in the first test match of an away series. It doesn’t matter the standard of the opposition, which is likely to at best be ordinary, but I can see some fairly dreadful cricket that will have us all having a moan about our lack of meaningful preparation seeing us go in undercooked and serving up some rubbish that would undoubtedly see us put away against better sides than Windies (that is not to say Windies won’t necessarily win either, though it IS less likely).

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  7. Silk Apr 7, 2015 / 7:49 am

    As I posted elsewhere, the plan to recall Trott as an opener is just complete madness.

    Can /anyone/ see Trott opening against Mitch, Mitch and Rhino being a success?

    Adam Lyth should be fuming.

    Like

    • Andy Apr 7, 2015 / 8:01 am

      It’s the same story from the ODI’s etc – why not bring in Hales (at the time 1st in t20 world rankings) and tell him he has a year before the WC to learn and bring his t20 form and approach to international ODI.

      Not saying Lyth is/should be top of any rankings (honestly don’t know much about him but thats my fault not his), but England are too conservative.

      The other oft discussed aspect of ‘lets practice one way – then change it on the first day of the WC’ is another symptom of Englands conservatism, and lack on confidence of what they do. They don’t have the ability (desire?) to look forward, or be aggressive to try and take control of a match.

      Having said that I wish Trott the best and hope he does go on to have a few more good years – but they need to be top notch, otherwise what’s the point of just bimbling along.

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    • Simon K Apr 7, 2015 / 9:14 am

      Not wanting to be too conspiratorial, but with Trott’s return there is at least an element of the current England set-up wanting to be seen to have established a healthier ‘team environment’ than its predecessor. That, I think, explains his recall better than the notion that they really want or need him in the side.

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 9:18 am

        Peter Moores, for all his faults and the question marks over him, isn’t known for ruling a side with a rod of iron.

        I’m sure that the one thing that will have improved is that the environment is a little more congenial.

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      • Silk Apr 7, 2015 / 9:22 am

        They want him in the team. In form, he’s a class act. That I can understand.

        But as an opener? Surely if they go down that route, he should be at 4 and Root should open for England like he does his county. And be told he has a whole year to establish himself as England’s best current batsman.

        Personally I’d have Trott and Taylor as reserves and Lyth opening. (Which, interestingly, would pretty much rule out KP unless he made masses and masses of runs in the CC)

        Like

      • Simon K Apr 7, 2015 / 1:23 pm

        If they really want him in the team (which I’m not convinced by – I think they want to test him out before they move on for good) then it has to be as opener. His form in the second half of his test career wasn’t good enough to justify disrupting the current middle order to make way for him.

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      • Silk Apr 7, 2015 / 2:16 pm

        But he’s no more an opener than KP is. We’d be staggered if they recalled KP to open.

        Lyth /is/ an opener and scored stacks of runs in the CC. He doubtless has flaws but they won’t be as immediately obvious to someone called Stitchell Mark, say (or even John Shonson) and therefore he might be reasonably expected to propser in the Ashes.

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  8. Andy Apr 7, 2015 / 7:56 am

    But, but, Cookie has made a magical 95 (again) so everything is all right…. isn’t it….

    🙂

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  9. Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 8:15 am

    Getting time in the middle, even against poor opposition, has merit in its own right. It’s just if it’s considered meritorious as an innings that the problem arises.

    Funny though, the highest score I’ve ever made came against a side that weren’t especially good at all, and in those circumstances I’d have got a hundred (not automatically, I mean assuming I did) and then got myself out. Except on this occasion everyone else decided to bat like absolute muppets, and by the time I got to my hundred we were 125-7. So I had to carry on so we could at least post some kind of score.

    A really really weird experience that. I got 150, the team only got 190, and on paper it looks like an imperious, dominant knock against opposition I played on my own.

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  10. Tom Apr 7, 2015 / 8:17 am

    Is there an accurate scorecard anywhere for this game? Cricinfo says no scorecard is available and the BBC scorecard has Root tearing out the opposition with 3-10 and Rashid opening the bowling. According to that scorecard, Plunkett didn’t even get a bowl.

    Confused…

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    • Silk Apr 7, 2015 / 8:33 am

      Cricinfo.IT was 12 a side. The 12 are AN Cook* IJL Trott GS Ballance IR Bell, JE Root, BA Stokes, JC Buttler†, AU Rashid, CJ Jordan, SCJ Broad, JC Tredwell, JM Anderson

      Which means, probably, that Plunkett won’t play in the first Test. 12th man will be Rashid or Tredwell. And, let’s face it, it will be Rashid.

      Like

  11. Arron Wright Apr 7, 2015 / 9:08 am

    What bugs me is that there are clear parallels with what was being written about Cook a year ago, yet try to point this out and prick the bubble of delusion, and you’re some kind of fifth columnist who wants him and England to fail.

    Time in the middle is valuable – this is what was said about his second division runs early last summer.
    Mediocre opposition on the horizon – this is what was said about Sri Lanka’s “county attack”.
    We should rally round him and move on from Pietersen – for Jim Holden (and others) now read Andy Wilson (and others) a year ago
    Still a world-class player who is *bound to* come good – no change in the hopeful narrative there either.

    And yet the brutal fact remains; in that year – a year with a much easier schedule on paper than we have in 2015 – he made three Test scores over 50, two of them with a shedload of luck along the way. He made one or two scores over 50 in ODIs, well short of the pace required, and well short of his own target. Otherwise he looked awful.

    I was among the more cynical and pessimistic a year ago, and he fell short of even my expectations. The evidence against has been stacking up, yet the consensus hasn’t moved on at all. It is truly bizarre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 9:13 am

      You’re right, but he’s genuinely running out of time now, and the press soft soap is colliding with reality. It’s at the point where they can write what they want, but his repeated struggles can’t be hidden.

      They’ve been hoping against hope he delivers this series, and let’s be honest, he really ought to. That will buy him some time, but that’s all.

      This summer is pivotal for him. Failure in England will be the breaking point. And God knows we need him to succeed to have any chance whatsoever.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thebogfather Apr 7, 2015 / 9:22 am

        Whether he can/or has reflected on obvious batting deficiencies from the past couple of years, and has spent time sorting during his enforced break, remains to be seen. He was a good opening batsman until his restricted scoring areas were found out repeatedly. However much we need him to succeed, the paucity of his captaincy will still be there, and this will still affect the team performance (and his)

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      • Silk Apr 7, 2015 / 9:27 am

        (To the Bogfather)

        But if those of us outside cricket had had our way, he’s had been relieved of the captaincy a year ago and might have been able to use that space (and his absence from the ODI side) to resolve his difficulties.

        And we might have a captain who can captain. Or Broad. 😉

        I don’t recall Cook having the lack of front foot movement he does now when he was at his peak. So I don’t accept it’s an inbuilt technical problem. it’s something he’s allowed to creep into his game.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 9:32 am

        His problems are technical as much as anything. His head has toppled over to the offside and the bat isn’t coming down straight – which is why he’s now so vulnerable to lbw which he wasn’t before. It’s also the reason for his vulnerability outside off stump, as he tries to cover his problem with the straight ball by moving across to it. Essentially, he’s not playing straight and he doesn’t know where his off stump is. The result is he ends up playing the wrong shot to the ball much more frequently than before.

        Cook at his best keeps his head still (I’d encourage anyone to see just how far over his head has gone now, it’s truly startling) and over the line of the ball. That’s why he then had excellent judgement about leaving the ball outside off stump.

        I wouldn’t worry about his lack of shots, that just doesn’t make much difference to a player with his endless patience – bowlers do bowl bad balls, it’s when a player is struggling that they can focus on one area. Allan Border only had three shots and they served him rather well.

        Hopefully Cook spent the winter working on this stuff (I’d be amazed if he didn’t). He’s one of those batsmen who is constantly fighting against his technique, and errors creep in. He’s always going to be stiff legged on the drive. It doesn’t matter as it’s not an area he scores heavily in anyway. But it is the standout means of spotting if he’s got his technique right – if he leans into a drive just a little, rather than hooding the bat as he usually does, then he’s got himself sorted.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH Apr 7, 2015 / 10:19 am

        Vian, that myth about Border having only three shots isn’t one that should be repeated. Border at his peak had all the shots – as he showed on the 1985 tour.

        Border reined himself in earlier in his career when he was in a very weak team and later in his career when he was playing the elder statesman (so did Clive Lloyd at the end of his career and nobody says he only had three shots).

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 10:22 am

        It’s as true of Border as it is of Cook. When Cook was batting well he would cut, pull, hook, drive, leg glance, clip through the legside off a length, sweep, slightly sweep….

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 10:28 am

        Slightly = slog

        FFS.

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  12. thebogfather Apr 7, 2015 / 9:50 am

    VIAN/SILK – so us on the outside have seen his faults both technical and therefore the ensuing mental worries become blatantly obvious over the past couple of years (and in certain series/against specific bowling for longer) – what are the ECB backroom team doing?

    This along with our increasingly injured/scared to experiment/fed the plan bowling attack…

    Whether Cook has addressed his personal problems on the pitch, it still will lead to failure with him as captain… or is he still ‘learning the trade as captain’?

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    • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 9:55 am

      Because it’s difficult. Stripping back technique is really hard work, because muscle memory keeps you don’t what feels “natural” at that point, and changing it back feels unnatural.

      I’m sure they have been working on him, but since Cook has always used Gooch to work with, I would imagine that’s the route he’s gone down. So he should too, he needs to work with just one person who he trusts and not take advice from lots of different people. Seeing the problem and resolving it are two different matters. There’s no way the coaches in the England set up are unaware of the issue, they aren’t stupid.

      Head and body position rule everything – footwork follows on from that naturally when this is right. Trescothick was always a great example of that, his footwork was minimal, but it didn’t matter because his head and body position was perfect.

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 9:56 am

        A bit of autocorrect hell there but hopefully you get what I mean.

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      • Silk Apr 7, 2015 / 10:15 am

        Someone said Gooch told him he had to completely rebuild his game. But I didn’t see a link to the source of that statement, so don’t know if it’s true.

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 10:18 am

        It will be true, whether or not he said it. They’ll have to go right back to basics and build back up from there. Because he is exceptionally talented (he’s scored 8,000 Test runs, of course he’s exceptionally talented) once he has forced himself back to those initial points, it will flow very easily from there. That first basic bit is the hard bit.

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 10:27 am

        A fairly similar technical issue too.

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      • Zephirine Apr 7, 2015 / 10:34 am

        Silk: it was probably me, I referred to this from Gooch last summer:

        http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/cricket/england-v-india-bowlers-have-worked-alastair-cook-out-so-he-needs-to-rebuild-his-game-says-graham-gooch-9610929.html

        ““I think sometimes people forget just how good a run-maker he is, but in this instance he is not just in a run of bad form; opposition teams have worked out how to bowl to him to stop him scoring, to stop him playing shots.

        “Australia did it, Sri Lanka, and now India have copied it. He has to go back and look at his game and remake it, to work out ways to score runs. We have all had to do it at some point in our careers, though it is difficult in the middle of a Test series.

        “It is a challenge he has got now and it is up to him to find a way to combat what the opposition are doing to him.”

        I think there was another report of Gooch saying something similar in an interview just before he lost his job as England batting coach, but I can’t find it.

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      • Zephirine Apr 7, 2015 / 10:36 am

        Snap! 🙂

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 10:54 am

        Gooch is being a trifle disingenuous (quite reasonably so, he wouldn’t want to be blunt in public) and using euphemism.

        Vook’s problem has not been one of becoming becalmed and unable to score, but that the line gets him out cheaply repeatedly.

        If he sorts that out, he’ll score runs. No side can maintain that discipline endlessly once a batsman is in – if the game was that easy very few batsmen would have careers of more than two years.

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  13. Andy Apr 7, 2015 / 12:02 pm

    I find myself in a twisted position. I never want to see England loose or do badly, but equally I don’t see this side challenging or anything changing longer term.

    They will probably pull off a series win, but I don’t see a 3-0 as predicted in the MSM, and as others have said, this will be the ‘new dawn’ etc. I just don’t get the feeling of adventure and excitement from Eng as you do from SA, AUS, NZ etc. Perhaps if England do well but Cook doesn’t (which sounds terrible and makes me feel like a (swear word!)). there might be the start of change?

    I’m really torn – someone find some Irish heritage that I can ride the coat tails of!

    Like

  14. hatmallet Apr 7, 2015 / 12:03 pm

    From the video feed (which is far from HD and doesn’t show a straight view of the wicket), Cook appears to have made modifications to his guard and trigger movements.

    It is a worrying change though – I would have thought by exaggerating his move across the stumps further, he’s not fixing the core problem of the whereabouts of his off stump, and as Vian says, his head movement.

    Like

  15. SimonH Apr 7, 2015 / 12:18 pm

    The twittering between Elaine (with contributions from our own Annie and Bogfather) and Pringle/Selvey has resumed. Pringle displays his usual charm:

    Followed by a “who has the agenda?”. The day the word “agenda” can be reclaimed for its original meaning will be a happy one for the English language.

    Selvey is up on high horse about his “integrity”:

    Both fail yet again to address reasoned points well made and then fixate on or wonder why people get angry and frustrated. Whether it is mendacity or that they are just not very bright I couldn’t possibly comment.

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Apr 7, 2015 / 12:25 pm

      Utter arrogance would be my guess. Contempt in there. Maybe a touch of malevolence.

      Like

    • Arron Wright Apr 7, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      They both went to Cambridge you know, so it can’t be the latter…..

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      • Rav Roberts Apr 7, 2015 / 1:13 pm

        Thanks for pointing out, because I hadn’t picked up that they both went to Cambridge as they hardly ever mention it (more than once a day that is).

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    • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 12:52 pm

      I know I shouldn’t be, but I was genuinely astonished by his answer to me.

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      • SimonH Apr 7, 2015 / 1:06 pm

        Is that the ‘no’?

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      • Vian Apr 7, 2015 / 1:07 pm

        Indeed. You don’t have to be the most self aware person in the planet to think you might be being more than a touch hypocritical.

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    • ZeroBullshit Apr 7, 2015 / 3:29 pm

      I love it when Mike Selvey starts talking about his integrity. He has little and his credibility has been down to zero with me for more than a year.

      Just as enjoyable is his “no” to Vian’s “may I ask why it is ok for you to question the integrity of another then?”

      All that bowling into the wind to accommodate Wayne Daniel seems to have affected his judgement.

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  16. Mark Apr 7, 2015 / 12:59 pm

    Arron……… “They both went to Cambridge you know,”

    So did Donald Maclean, Guy Burgess, Harold “Kim” Philby and Anthony Blunt.

    Like

  17. Silk Apr 7, 2015 / 9:24 pm

    I went to Oxford. Did I mention that? Do I get to run the blog now?

    Like

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