Horticulture

Well good day all.

Feeling a little better, with a bit more energy today. Absolutely zonked for the last 36 hours, but I’m made of resilient stock. I think.

I’m more certain of my resilience when I have to listen to numerous hours of the Moores-Cook In House TV Channel and embedded media as I did yesterday. It’s quite rare for me to watch a whole day’s play of a tour test match, and yesterday offerered me the opportunity (although I did doze throughout the day). Good grief, what’s happened to them?

The early part of the day was dominated by the Joe Root love-in. Now, fair enough, Joe made an excellent hundred befitting his talent and ability, and more importantly, his temperament. He’s a great player in the making, and is doing what a good batsman should do against bowling attacks like the one is he up against. He should be giving the impression when he walks out that “I’m in form, and the only way you get me out is I make a mistake. You ain’t good enough to get me out.” He is giving off that impression. At this point, of course there were two things really missing from the love-fest from all the team (alongside the love-fest for Bell for his 143 and Ballance for his 122 in the last test):

  • The wicket was a slow one, and you needed to be a decent player to make a ton at a decent rate on it; and
  • If this wicket was such a belter, how come our great line-up had just one ton to its name on it. Most notably, the captain (there, I said it).

The tone had switched by the evening session when players who have made runs in test cricket, like Kraigg Brathwaite (a hundred in South Africa last winter – I’ll bet Botham, for one, never had a clue prior to being told this fact by his scorer/analyst), Darren Bravo (big hundred in India to his name, for one) and Marlon Samuels (100 in difficult conditions early on in this test) made batting look easy, and getting them out hard. Now this wasn’t anyone else’s fault other than the groundsman / cricket authorities for laying on this wicket.

Now don’t confuse this pitch with a great test wicket. But I’d guess the commentators know about as much about pitch preparation as many of them do about the home team’s international playing records. This isn’t St. John’s Rec we are playing on, with 700 playing 700. The home team’s batsmen are allowed to play well. It isn’t against the laws of cricket. As Vian keeps saying, we blew this test in the 1st innings, not this one. This isn’t the allowed narrative, as we found out….

So what we had was Alastair Cook doing what all competent captains should do, and he did it competently. No more. This wasn’t “excellent” captaincy. It was decent. He tried things, but the excellent ones have them come off, whereas the competent ones are those that have tried. I’m not having a pop at Cook here, because it’s not his fault his bowling attack is limited, and especially that he’s been thrown a spinner who has had a side injury and is expected to be better than he’s been. You can only use what is at your disposal. Broad was guff, Anderson has been a disappointment, and Jordan is the bowler us Surrey fans saw a few years ago. Stokes is always going to be inconsistent.

So we had an issue. Clearly we can’t have the TV saying a major reason a tired performance from our bowlers was due to the insanity of back-to-back tests on hard graft wickets. That’s absolutely not on, because it’s like this due to TV schedulers in the main, and this series is being ludicrously shoe-horned as part of our “11 out of 17 wins year of cricket”. So we have the TV and press tripping over themselves to absolve the team of blame, pouring scorn on the “mediocre” jibe by Graves, and telling us time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time and time….again that this pitch is “flat”.

A regular tweeter in opposite view to many of those expressed in this parish said that Nasser had said Cook had captained excellently, so that will do for him. But even Nas has been at the Kool-Aid on this one. While he pointed out, very astutely in my view, that Moeen Ali’s over-hyping last summer may have been a little premature, he then said Cook had done nothing wrong, and had been excellent. The fact that they need to keep telling us this is a sign indeed, as another poster here or on Twitter has been saying here. Cook’s need, whether explicit or implicit, for positive reinforcement betrays the problem. No-one thinks his captaincy is going to create something out of nothing if has little to work with.

The other clear implication is that this has to be a dead wicket because Kraigg Brathwaite (who has copped some good ones, and got sorted out by a short ball) has made a hundred. Anyone following West Indian test cricket in the recent past knows this guy is made of the right stuff. His technique is quite individual (yet to be convinced of the Dravid comparison, fellow author) but he has temperament and ability, and he showed it. So once we had the rather perfunctory mentions of Brathwaite batting well (Gower’s line of questioning of how proud was he of scoring a century against England in particular struck me as borderline arrogant – he’s got one against a far better attack) it was back to the wicket.

Test cricket is hard. It’s meant to be tough to get wickets. We got 291 runs in the day, which isn’t bad, especially when one side its trying to save the match. Our attack has never been as good as the media portrayed (it is the reason that our two top pace men average 30-ish) and it’s main spinner is having a major off day. This pitch only became a terrible one, responsible for the match situation once Brathwaite had made the ton that, frankly, Alastair Cook failed to complete when he had the chance. Because, to say this pitch is a road, in which you can’t get anyone out on, let’s the real cat out of the bag. The Alastair Cook who made the likes of 294 or 235 on pitches like this, didn’t this time. I have the whole of that Brisbane test in my archives, for one, and you don’t hear about how bad that wicket was anywhere near as much as you did yesterday. There’s the rub. A test wicket only appears terrible when we can’t take wickets on it.

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21 thoughts on “Horticulture

  1. thelegglance Apr 25, 2015 / 12:28 pm

    Ha! I’ll explain the Dravid thing. In both instances they have a very loose grip, but are actually quite bottom handed. Yet in both instances that bottom hand pushes the bat through straight. It’s a style thing, not an ability thing.

    As you were…. 🙂

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Apr 25, 2015 / 12:31 pm

      No, wasn’t going on the ability thing, as you well know!

      Not a technician really, so I bow to that knowledge.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. thebogfather Apr 25, 2015 / 12:33 pm

    I so adore your mid-pitch gardening Dmitri, that was a whole ‘Queue Gardens’ to the ECB/MSM/Sky asKew collective – thank you

    Like

  3. Elaine Simpson-Long Apr 25, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    At one stage Broady and Jimmy were setting the field while Cooky stood picking his nose and looking gormless. Gower then said that B and J had the captain’s ‘tacit approval’…..no they did not. They just ignored him

    Like

    • thebogfather Apr 25, 2015 / 1:28 pm

      Cookie went off to get advice/a sunhat to protect him (he always wears his leader cap), perhaps he got a sheep rash on his neck (on the line) ?

      Like

      • thelegglance Apr 25, 2015 / 1:33 pm

        The amount of 12th men (the collective noun for twelfth men is…?) coming on distributing advice is really getting my goat.

        Captain, this is your bloody job.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Richard Apr 26, 2015 / 12:20 am

        A Loughborough of 12th men

        Like

  4. MM Apr 25, 2015 / 12:43 pm

    Do you think there’s a computer program – sold exclusively to the ECB and the English cricket media – that provides them with the appropriate excuse for a particular set of events?

    Obviously it had its Colin Graves update a few weeks back, and its cheap balls update a week or so ago. I guess it’s had its dead pitch update upgraded even further now. It’s like The bloody Matrix following England. Nothing’s real.

    Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus Apr 25, 2015 / 12:50 pm

      The last test match came within two wickets of a result, and only a masively composed knock by a young talent prevented a win for the visitors. I enjoyed the match immensely, actually.

      But no, that’s a crap pitch as well.

      This is because England are supposed to win this series 3-0 and if we don’t there has to be a reason that doesn’t imply blame on the captain, management or certain players (Stokes becoming the new KP in that regard – open season on him, while Broad, who does equally daft nonsense, seems absolved). So it’s devious host authorities making pitches to suit them.

      Funny. While we hummed and hawwed about the 2013 Ashes pitches, and rightly slagged off Conn and his muppets for having a pop at us for it, not a lot of the stick went the way of Andy Flower, who demanded the pitches. There’s several points in there. Pick them apart if you want! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. BoerInAustria Apr 25, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    Great post. Thanks. I now understand uutside cricket meaning not having stepped through the Sliding Doors into another reality…

    Like

  6. Mark Apr 25, 2015 / 1:07 pm

    “I’m not having a pop at Cook here, because it’s not his fault his bowling attack is limited, and especially that he’s been thrown a spinner who has had a side injury and is expected to be better than he’s been. You can only use what is at your disposal. ”

    Much as I hate to do so, I must disagree with this M’ Lord. I think Cook has a huge say in selection of the team. He walked out with the bowlers he wanted. He has come to trust Moeen. Something he does not do with most spinners. So he would rather an out of form player he feels safe around than try something new.

    He is also responsible with the management for the dry runs only tactics that so dominate all England thinking. True we don’t have a Holding or LIlle who we could call on. But I think we could do a lot better. But we need a different mind set form the captain.

    Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus Apr 25, 2015 / 1:17 pm

      I don’t know for certain about the selection of Moeen, especially as Whitaker is out there (I swear I saw him, and he was saying Ballance, Ballance, Ballance), but you may be right. His past record with spinners not called Swann isn’t great. Also, the lack of spinners is nailed at county cricket’s door, but funny how the champions always seem to have very decent spinners (Surrey had Saqlain and Solly, who was brilliant for us; Yorkshire had Rashid who did the business last summer; Sussex had Mushy; Warwickshire had Jeetan Patel….). It’s never international development’s fault.

      Like

      • thelegglance Apr 25, 2015 / 1:29 pm

        As I was driving back from Dirty Leeds Boycott was talking about the selection of players for a tour versus those who get a game. He was saying the selectors choose the squad but then have no say if the coach and captain don’t rate a particular player and won’t choose him – this of course was with reference to Rashid. It was an interesting observation, I might come back to that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Benny Apr 25, 2015 / 11:38 pm

        Now that Broad has demonstrated that not knowing what that lump of willow is for, can we assume Monty (happy birthday superstar) can be fitted into the team?

        Like

  7. thebogfather Apr 25, 2015 / 1:31 pm

    15 minutes, and then we’ll see the effect of the IronRodders/MooresThePityful team-talk ahead of this final (for who?) day…

    Like

    • LordCanisLupus Apr 25, 2015 / 1:36 pm

      That bit where Nas encountered Cook after his net. Cook looked and acted as if his attitude was “am I contractually obliged to do this?”. Cooky, old son, be a little bit more obliging, as he’s doing his best to put your case.

      But then that’s me probably analysing an innocent situation through an anti-Cook prism, so ignore me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Benny Apr 25, 2015 / 11:35 pm

        Since Gower was on Sky this afternoon saying he liked Cook’s body language (yes really), maybe they should have got him to do the interview with a little man cuddle.

        Like

      • dvyk Apr 26, 2015 / 10:57 am

        @Benny,

        For heavens sake… Does Gower also want that MD position?

        Like

      • thebogfather Apr 26, 2015 / 12:03 pm

        @DVYK – I hear the ECB has a wonderful chef and a fine wine cellar…..
        or was it a fine whiney self-seller and wanderingly full of himself Cook ?

        Like

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