England v New Zealand: 1st Test preview

And so after all the talking, double dealing and flat out fibbing, we come to the first Test of the summer and the beginning of the international season.

When the schedule was put together some years ago, New Zealand must have seemed the ideal opponents to provide a warm up for the main event of the summer.  A side with a bit of talent, but no real challenge to England, allowing players to ease back into Test cricket, find a bit of form and then move on to a real challenge.  It hasn’t worked out that way.

New Zealand are riding a crest of a wave.  A little over two years ago they appeared in meltdown, a new coach had come in – one without any kind of cricketing background in terms of playing incidentally – sacked the captain and the ructions in New Zealand cricket were deep and ongoing.  The best batsman was sufficiently hurt and humiliated as to drop out of the side, and the criticism was long and extensive, while the team were humiliated in South Africa.  Yet there was talent in the side, and the installation of Brendon McCullum as captain, however clumsily done, did seem at least to show some indications of forward thinking.  Ross Taylor returned, with all sides admitting that a lot of work needed to be done to heal the wounds.  That this was largely achieved is a credit to everyone involved, and the irony of the difference in terms of how New Zealand have addressed such matters and certain other sides.  New Zealand Cricket even had the gall to er, well admit they hadn’t handled things well.

Since the low point of being 45 all out, the team has gone from strength to strength. They had much the better of a 0-0 draw against an England team showing the first signs of the terrified negativity that’s become all too familiar, and although they were comfortably beaten in the return fixture in 2013, that was the last series in which they’ve been defeated.  A home win against India was impressive given where they’d come from, while an away win in the West Indies was their first overseas series victory against a top eight side in over a decade.

Perhaps most impressive of all was drawing with Pakistan in the UAE, by no stretch of the imagination an easy place to get a result.  Reaching the World Cup final in the 50 over format showcased an attacking, vibrant team unafraid to take risks.  They take it into the Test arena too – McCullum might set the tone with his batting, but he is hardly alone.

Not all of the Black Caps batting order is in prime form, and the late arrival of some of the team from the IPL is less than ideal, but they do bat deep and they are dangerous.  Martin Guptill for one  has a modest Test record, but is pushing hard for inclusion on the back of good form in England this year.  Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are quality players, while Hamish Rutherford has flattered to deceive in his career to date, yet is clearly talented.  Yet perhaps the key player may turn out to be the combative wicketkeeper BJ Watling, the antithesis of the flaky player.

It is the bowling where England will be in real danger.  Test series in May often prove far too much for visiting sides to handle – precisely why the defeat to Sri Lanka last year was so abject, no matter how some try to pretend it never happened – yet in Trent Boult and Tim Southee the suspicion is that New Zealand have a significant advantage in the new ball stakes.

England have a fairly settled side, which is somewhat surprising given the shenanigans of the last month.  Lyth will almost certainly make his debut at the top of the order, and given that the pitch appears the day before to be exceptionally green, it will be challenging conditions in which to make a debut.  Despite claims that Cook is somehow in exceptional form on the basis of a century against modest opposition who were also missing their spearhead, the combination of a potent opening attack, cloudy overhead conditions and a damp track will ensure that he is under pressure from the off – not even taking into account his reported actions concerning the composition of the side.

The middle order is one area of solidity in the England team.  Ballance, Root and Bell really ought to be a good combination.  Bell himself has struggled somewhat since his aestas mirabilis in 2013, despite not looking out of touch.  He needs runs.

The bowling looks to be extremely reliant on Anderson.  Conditions should suit him down to the ground; the fear in his case is of being overbowled or getting injured.  Without Anderson, England really would be in the mire.  Broad did look to be returning to some kind of form in the Caribbean – with the ball anyway – and perhaps what he needs more than anything else is overs under his belt.  Even so, his pace was patchy at best, and surely he won’t be looking to bang the ball in to the deck in such conditions.

The support seamers are a problem.  Although it is a Good Thing to be patient with young players, neither Stokes nor Jordan looked especially penetrative in the West Indies, and it may be that Mark Wood gets the nod.  England are casting about for a magic bullet here, and Wood is the latest to solve all difficulties no doubt.  But if he is selected, then it should be for both Tests and the first couple against Australia.  Like with Lyth, he’s been given something of a hospital pass by being overlooked for any of the Tests last month, and now will have to come in against markedly stronger opposition.

The question of the coach rumbles on, with mixed opinions on whether Gillespie was showing interest in the England job, or indicating that he would politely turn them down.  Strauss has let it be known that there is no rush to find a coach, even if it involves going into the Ashes without one.  In a sense this is reasonable, taking time to find the right one is a good thing.  Yet if there was no rush, why summarily sack Peter Moores with no replacement lined up?  It’s more muddled thinking and behaviour.

This is a defining summer for Alastair Cook.  Appointing Joe Root to the vice captaincy has signalled that failure this summer will be the end of him as captain.  By affirming his position England have effectively served notice on it.  Winning is the only way he can survive, and scoring runs is an imperative.  It’s the end game, and now it’s up to him.

@BlueEarthMngmnt

91 thoughts on “England v New Zealand: 1st Test preview

  1. amit May 20, 2015 / 12:18 pm

    So, we are now being told of PF’s credentials as the MSM talks him up. It includes his success with Sri Lanka. Can anyone remind me exactly how many months it had actually lasted before he jumped ship to join England?

    Like

  2. paulewart May 20, 2015 / 12:20 pm

    ‘Despite claims that Cook is somehow in exceptional form on the basis of a century against modest opposition and a bowler short.

    Nice piece Vian.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. SimonH May 20, 2015 / 12:39 pm

    “Winning is the only way [Cook] can survive”.

    What was interesting about Newman’s piece about time running out on Cook’s captaincy was that Cook could go even if England win (going out on a high and all that). Newman is obviously close to Cook and seems unlikely to have written that without hearing something from the horse’s mouth. On the other hand, perhaps Cook was just having a bit of a whinge and wanted to hear some “oh no Cookie, don’t go, we need you” after all that’s transpired recently.

    As they seem set against the idea of a stopgap that would leave Root with Pakistan in UAE as his first captaincy gig. Good luck with that one Joe! That’s the toughest series of this run of five in my view.

    By the way, I heard somewhere England will go to seventh in the ratings if they lose the NZ series. The weather forecast looks good for the first three days at Lord’s.

    Like

    • thelegglance May 20, 2015 / 12:41 pm

      Yep, England are fifth on 97 points, with Pakistan sixth also on 97, and Sri Lanka seventh on 96.

      Like

    • Arron Wright May 20, 2015 / 12:47 pm

      Guardian dwellers, including your good self, will know this already because I put it there as soon as I’d finished the research.

      All four of New Zealand’s wins in England came in matches played between 22nd July and 22nd August. Which is yet another reason to find this early season ghettoising of less “commercial” opponents thoroughly exasperating.

      Like

      • man in a barrel May 20, 2015 / 5:58 pm

        Going back to the 1973 tour, NZ very nearly beat England at Trent Bridge. The match started on 7 June. Even though this is 3 weeks later than the next Test, the weather was very variable. Two days of chilly weather during which the ball swung and seamed all over the place, followed by glorious sunshine in which the Kiwis scored 440 runs, only to fall short by 38. Test cricket in May in England and Wales does not make a lot of sense and New Zealand in particular deserve better.

        Liked by 1 person

      • SimonH May 20, 2015 / 6:04 pm

        There are extended highlights of that 1973 match on Youtube (under ‘New Zealand run chase, Nottingham 1973’).

        Like

    • paulewart May 20, 2015 / 2:18 pm

      There has been talk of a natural captaincy cycle for quite some time. The narrative was supposed to run thus: Cook retires from the one-day captaincy following the world cup, the test captaincy following the current Ashes campaign.

      Like

      • SimonH May 20, 2015 / 3:12 pm

        The ECB chews up captains and spits the out.

        Whatever this cycle is, it isn’t ‘natural’. Other teams would experience something similar if it was and they don’t.

        Liked by 2 people

      • paule May 20, 2015 / 4:32 pm

        Totally agree. That’s why I referred to a narrative, moreover a narrative fixe, one meant to reassure us that although our captain’s crap he wont be our captain forever. Frankly bizarre, and I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. It does bear comparison with our crap PM of course,who felt compelled to issue that same type of promise to voters.

        Like

  4. Arron Wright May 20, 2015 / 12:53 pm

    First he says he wasn’t consulted, and then we get this:

    Can I just say, before Strauss legislates against it, that I actually loathe Alastair Cook.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Mark May 20, 2015 / 1:00 pm

    I have never looked forward to the start of a test match summer with less enthusiasm. The fact it’s an Ashes one makes that felling even worse.

    If England do not do very well the only high point will be watching the cretinous alchemists in the media try to turn shit into gold.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Culex May 20, 2015 / 1:31 pm

    Now is the time for all good Bilious Inadequates to come to the aid of the Team. Show your support for Craptain Cook!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Arron Wright May 20, 2015 / 1:35 pm

    Going down well…

    Like

  8. Silk May 20, 2015 / 2:15 pm

    Barney Ronay has me in stitches

    And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England’s mountains green?

    That is not a relevant question.

    Like

  9. Silk May 20, 2015 / 2:16 pm

    That’s it. I’m with Clive. I’m supporting NZ!

    Like

  10. thelegglance May 20, 2015 / 2:18 pm

    The important point is that if Cook is telling the truth, then England removed a player from consideration permanently without ever asking or consulting the players. It’s called trying to have your cake and eat it.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mark May 20, 2015 / 2:22 pm

    Captain Doofus “I have to let management manage.”

    That should be salted away for when the management sack him. If the past is anything to go by I’m sure he will take it very ,very well.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Sherwick May 20, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    Alastair, when you were sacked as England ODI captain, did you say:

    1. “I have to let management manage.”

    or

    2. “But I think you saw in Australia the dangers of making such a big decision so close to the tournament. I don’t know what’s gone on on that tour, and I can only speak from watching a little bit from afar, but it did look like the lads were shell-shocked from the first two games. “That’s when you need real leadership to help steer you through. Whether I would have made a difference, I don’t know. I can’t speak about what’s gone on there in depth, but you always back yourself, and I would have loved to have had the opportunity that was taken away from me.
    The selectors made that decision because they thought it was the best for English cricket. Hindsight has probably proved them wrong, but now it’s very easy to say that.”

    ?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Arron Wright May 20, 2015 / 2:31 pm

      No bloody wonder the Guardian report isn’t open for comments, with open goals like that!

      Liked by 4 people

    • Grumpy Gaz May 21, 2015 / 8:51 am

      That, of course, is not a relevant question.

      Like

  13. "IronBalls" McGinty May 20, 2015 / 2:30 pm

    As opined many times before…this aint England…it’s the ECB Select XI, and, as such, I cant muster myself to support it. After reading snippets of Cook’s deliberations at the presser, well, suffering fuck, it’s even worse than I ever thought!! The ECB’s representative on the field really is a mealy mouthed tosser and perfectly reflects the culture and ethos within the ECB!
    A whitewash by NZ in all formats will encourage me to believe that they have chipped away at the edifice of the ECB on behalf of england cricket lovers and start to bring down that pillar of all that is rotten in our beloved game!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. man in a barrel May 20, 2015 / 3:00 pm

    just when you think the story could not get any worse… If Cook is to be believed, and to be honest I have trust issues with him :), then the journos either made up the story or were fed an erroneous “leak” by the ECB. The simplest explanation is that Cook is lying. Did anyone ask why the question was not relevant, by the way?

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Arron Wright May 20, 2015 / 3:06 pm

    Duly noted that the England captain still refers to the Director, Cricket as “Straussy”.

    And there are people who think Kevin Pietersen is the only one with no self-awareness…

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Sherwick May 20, 2015 / 3:07 pm

    “Did anyone ask why the question was not relevant, by the way?”.

    That is not a relevant question.

    Liked by 3 people

    • amit May 20, 2015 / 3:32 pm

      Is he really smiling (looks so forced) or just worried this may be the last time he holds this trophy?

      Like

      • Zephirine May 20, 2015 / 3:40 pm

        He’s wishing he wasn’t so vain that he has to wear a short-sleeved top to show off his manly arms on a day when McCullum is sensibly clad in a long-sleeved fleece.

        Like

  17. Mark May 20, 2015 / 3:44 pm

    Can you imagine if KP had threatened to walk out over something, and then the following week claimed “it’s nothing to do with me, its all down to management?”

    I’m sure the Simon Hughes’s, and Agnews, and Selveys would just sit passively by and say yup “I thought Kevin handled that in a very honest way, and showed such dignity.”

    This is a captain who is not held to account for anything he says or does. No wonder he spouts this clap trap. The MSM will probably be asking Cook to tell them what are the relevant questions they can ask him soon. I kid you not they are this fawning.

    Simon Dipstick …..”Oh please Alastair, could you tell me what questions are acceptable to you?”

    Cook……” Ask me why I am a brilliant captain?”

    Simon Dipstick…..” Yes, right Cooky, mind if I call you Cooky? Why are you a great captain?”

    Cook….” Because I am.”

    Simon Dipstick….” Thanks Cooky, yes you are a fantastic captain , what else can I ask?”

    Cook….” Ask me why I’m so handsome?”

    Simon Dipstick..” How do you keep your good looks Cooky?

    Cook….” No stress. I throw out anyone I don’t like. Keeps the stress down.”

    Simon Dipstick…” Yes, you wear it well, it obviously agrees with you. Do you stress about losing?”

    Cook…” Not at all, because I have been given the green light to do as I please, any complaints?”

    Simon Dipstick…..”none whatsoever!!! “

    Liked by 2 people

    • jomesy May 20, 2015 / 5:27 pm

      He’s not the son of God – he’s a very naughty boy

      Liked by 2 people

      • jomesy May 20, 2015 / 7:08 pm

        went to Kings Bollege, Bambridge…..silly (lying) bunt

        Like

      • paule May 20, 2015 / 9:27 pm

        Well that rather backs up the hissy fit in the West Indies story: he m
        ade his feelings known before Strauss was appointed thus determining Strauss’ appointment.

        Like

  18. I shall remain anonymous May 20, 2015 / 5:30 pm

    I’d just like to say to all those who are thinking of ignoring this Test match or not following it closely, at least, I’d urge you to reconsider. Don’t be put off by England. This New Zealand team are wonderful to watch. The way they play the game, the example of their captain and the terrific players they have, like Southee, Boult and Williamson, will remind you why cricket is such a great game. They’ll provide some wonderful entertainment that’s for sure. (Just ignore England)

    Like

    • "IronBalls" McGinty May 20, 2015 / 5:46 pm

      The only reason why I would go there is to set up a booth selling Kevin Pietersen masks! Should make a bob or two eh?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Benny May 20, 2015 / 6:01 pm

      I’ll be following it. I love cricket and love watching talented players. NZ have several and England have a couple. I shan’t be cheering England on because, as many have observed, this is an ECB Invitational XI.

      Liked by 1 person

    • LordCanisLupus May 20, 2015 / 7:33 pm

      I don’t think any of us will be ignoring this test Mr/Mrs Anon. One thing I know from doing this blog is that the people who comment on here care deeply about the sport and love watching it.

      They just don’t buy what’s being sold….

      Liked by 2 people

  19. SimonH May 20, 2015 / 5:44 pm

    When it’s one of the usual suspects involved, it’s easy to have a rant. But when it’s George Dobell it isn’t so straightfoward. This conclusion to a recent article has been bugging me –

    “A new summer of international cricket brings new hope. England have an exuberant, young side. A side that could inspire and engage. It is time to stop the in-fighting, time to stop focusing on the past, time to stop judging the team on the failings of the board…. Strauss and Graves and co. need to be given time to bring about the change of which they talk. In short, can’t we all just get along?”

    Why don’t I feel this? Why don’t I feel even close to it? GD clearly does as he has been arguing something like it for a while now. Let’s take some of these points on:

    1) “An exuberant, young side” – I’ve argued before this side isn’t quite as young as it is presented to be. West Indies were younger and less experienced in Bridgetown. Clearly by England standards though it is a young team. Do youth and exuberance have to go together though? I don’t see much exuberance in England’s play. I still see grinding attritional cricket. I see Buttler losing his exuberance and becoming quite unlikable. I see the exuberant kept on the margins of the team or not included at all (Hales most obviously). I also see some of the younger players being pushed beyond what their achievement warrants. Ballance and Root average over fifty so must be the new Hammond and Hutton? They’ve played the 6th, 7th and 8th ranked teams who had exactly one seamer averaging under thirty in Tests between them (Kemar Roach who was a shadow of the bowler he was). Come back to me when they average 40+ in two of the three series against Australia, Pakistan and South Africa. Steve Smith cleared that hurdle.

    2) “Stop judging the team on the failings of the board” – this is the crux of it. Can the two be separated? Yes – the SL or Pakistan teams of now or the past could be intensely likable despite chronic board failings. It is possible. Part of the problem with England is the way the team’s successes will be used to vindicate the board by the MSM – but it isn’t only that. The ECB control every aspect of the team’s play in a way those other boards couldn’t. Ranatunga or Sangakkara, Imran or Misbah, they controlled what happened on the field. The ECB control the style of play in the way those other boards could only dream of. Lay a platform, bowl dry. It’s all they know. Go for it from the off like Tres did at Edgbaston in 2005 or McCullum did in UAE – never going to happen with this England. Play a fast bowler or wrist spinner who goes for runs while taking wickets? Forget it. I know we haven’t got many – but would they be played if we had? Would Stuart MacGill ever have played for this England? Why would an English youngster want to learn these two demanding crafts if they look dead ends at the highest level? Fast-medium and finger spin are all we are ever going to see – and sorry they don’t thrill me like genuine pace or wrist/mystery spin do.

    3) “Time to bring about the change of which they talk” – this is nothing but Downton’s “patience” rehashed. It annoys the hell out of me. I’d give it time if I thought there was an effort to move things in the right direction. All I see is an obstinate clinging to methods that worked once and therefore must work again – if only we try them hard enough and long enough. They’ve worked at times in the past and may work at times in the future (“even a stopped clock…..” and all that). But they provide no universal template for success. The world moves on while England live in an eternal 2009-2011.

    Pietersen symbolises a lot of this. It’s one way this is about more than him. He exists outside the bubble. He doesn’t bat dry. He doesn’t care just about winning but, in Danny Blanchflower’s famous words, about glory. With his record he gets shafted – what chance does anyone else have? So, can’t we all just get along? No.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Benny May 20, 2015 / 6:16 pm

      I have to agree.

      1. OK this is a younger, more exuberant side than before but still isn’t a team of our best players

      2. I don’t judge the team on the board’s failures. Not sure anyone ever did George. However, whenever you look at England, you’re aware of the board looming behind them like a dark cloud or a bad smell

      3. What changes? England don’t do change. If this young, exuberant side do reasonably well against NZ, I can tell you now who will line up against Oz in the first test and probably the rest of the Ashes. “What’s the team JW?” “After long seconds of serious thought, same again Herr Strauss”

      Like

    • dvyk May 20, 2015 / 6:31 pm

      Well put. I suspect GD knows he has to pay the rent. I’m sure he’d view it as trying to be fair, but the fact is that any journalist who covers the ECB set up honestly would have to write far more negativity than taste, even in difficult circumstances, would dictate. He probably feels he has to balance it with “nice” stuff just to keep avenues of contact open.

      Yes – I think it misses the point to expect fans to mentally separate the the players from the board. The players are either being propped up by the board (Cook) or used as human shields to try and ensure or buy loyalty.

      Personally, I’ve been impressed for many years by the loyalty of a significant bunch of English fans, who discuss performances honestly, knowledgeably and in great detail, year after year, regardless whether it’s win or lose. The only reason I ever started commenting on forums like this is to confirm for you guys as best I can that, no you are not being disloyal. It’s so bad that the ECB have turned me into a KP fan and would have wished him ever success this year had he been deemed selectable.

      Your national team has been stolen from under your noses by a cabal of middle managers and their wannabe cronies in the media. Insufficient fan loyalty is not the problem here. And a plague on anyone who insinuates that it is.

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance May 20, 2015 / 6:48 pm

        Any hack who dares to talk about fair weather fans when it comes to England can comprehensively go forth and multiply and in as many ways as possible.

        There’s little that will annoy me quite as much as cossetted, spoilt journalists, basking in their seats with food and drink on tap, as free as it was for them to get in to the ground, having the incredible cheek to have a go at those who pay money, and often a hell of a lot of money, to support the team.

        How dare they. How fucking dare they.

        Liked by 3 people

      • metatone May 20, 2015 / 7:29 pm

        I remarked that Dobell’s tone seemed to change during the WI tour.
        I think he spent some time with the young players and liked them and that’s part of it.

        I think part of it is also the groupthink of the press.
        You can see how someone like JE of the Sun will occasionally attack the ECB, but his general line is pretty pro-ECB and anti-“outside cricket.” Spending time with a bunch that range from Selvey to JE is bound to push your Overton window…

        For me the big nonsense isn’t the overhype of Root and Ballance, they could yet live up to it, it’s rather the lack of concern about the parlous state of the bowling attack.

        Liked by 1 person

      • MM May 20, 2015 / 9:59 pm

        F**k the ECB Invitational XI. F**k you Strauss[y]. F**k you Cook[y]. I’m gonna follow a team worthy of my love of cricket. C’mon NZ!

        Jason Gillespie, for the love of God, Yorkshire, and decent cricket, DON’T DO IT.

        Liked by 1 person

        • dlpthomas May 20, 2015 / 10:37 pm

          I’d quite like to see Gillespie get the job (surely heads would explode in the media box if an Australian got the job) However, there are several reasons why I think he’d be crazy to take it.
          1) the time away from his family
          2) lack of control over the team
          3) I’m not convinced the ECB and / or England team want to change the way they do things (not to mention having Strauss and, perhaps, Flower breathing over your shoulder)
          4) England are likely to loose to Australia, then Pakistan and then South Africa (11/17 my fat white arse) no matter who the coach is and, if that does happen, he will likely be sacked. Strauss may have “tenure” but I don’t think the coach will.

          Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright May 20, 2015 / 6:51 pm

      I agree with SimonH, I agree with Benny and I agree with Dvyk, and you know how that makes me crazy.

      (I might sneak in a West Wing reference every week, just to relieve the tedium of watching England. That one was Toby, by the way)

      Like

    • Mark May 20, 2015 / 6:53 pm

      There has been a marked change in the slant of George Dobell’s coverage since the World Cup. Perhaps they put a horses head in his bed.

      It can’t be easy to cover an organisation with other journalists who are nothing but boot lickers. Hanging around press conferences with the ECB Pravda can not be fun. And we know this is an organisation that does not take criticism well. ” something should be done.” They also can shut down access to people who don’t play the game. Dobell has to think about his career after all.

      But I am not at a point that I wish to try and get along with a bunch of duplicitous, speak your weight management self help book snake oil salesmen. So spare me the “get behind the lads” pep talk thank you very much George.

      Liked by 2 people

    • LordCanisLupus May 20, 2015 / 7:39 pm

      George hasn’t really changed his tune, it’s just I don’t think he’s backed up the line as fervently as he was a year ago. This mystifies me, because I’m not forgetting what happened just because there’s a change of personnel. A set of people who have made the same decisions as the last lot (and you know I’m convinced Clarke is not some doddery old fool who has left the reins of power).

      I’m not about to get mad at George yet.

      However, the thing that is getting me enraged is the automatic assumption that Strauss is going to be a success in a job he has never done before. This is the football equivalent of Steven Gerrard going away to play for the Galaxy and come back in a couple of year’s time to take over as Liverpool manager. You want to see how that works, check out Tony Adams managerial career. It’s not a bloody certainty. How is Strauss going to get great players from nowhere?

      Liked by 2 people

      • paule May 20, 2015 / 7:48 pm

        Yet as a Liverpool fan I fear that’s exactly what will happen.

        Like

  20. dvyk May 20, 2015 / 5:51 pm

    Oh no, I’ve made an embarrassing mistake. I was always calling him Farbsy when it’s really Farby.

    As far as Cooky is concerned, I imagine there are just as many ways of threatening to quit which do not fit a specific definition “ultimatum” as there are ways of passing on information without it being a leak.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. paule May 20, 2015 / 6:04 pm

    My take on Mike Selvey’s latest MO:

    An alternative reading, the subtext of which is that Michael Vaughan has the temerity to voice his own opinion and that an elephant remains very much in the room:

    Brendon McCullum is everything that England captain Alastair Cook is not.

    Michael Vaughan, the only England captain that could be favourably compared with Fleming and McCullum is insignificant.

    That defeat may be no bad thing if it heralds a new era.

    That England are shite, again. And its their own fault (though why, isn’t made clear, presumably something to do with Colin Graves and fruitflies).

    That defeat can be explained away in advance by the fact that England have toughest schedule like ever, in the world…..

    That the IPL is a good thing that improves players after all. Who’d have thunk?

    That Martin Crowe didn’t talk of forgiveness and said elephant in his most recent ESPN piece.

    That Mike Hesson isn’t Andrew Strauss or Colin Graves. That he wasn’t an international cricketer but did make the bold if clumsy decision to sack his captain and recuperate the injured party and that NZ haven’t looked back since.

    That adventurous cricket is good as long as its not purveyed by South African born England batsmen aka pests.

    That England have no choice but to play inexperienced players.

    That ubiquitous doesn’t mean what Mike thinks it means.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jomesy May 20, 2015 / 7:22 pm

      I just looked at Selvey’s wiki entry….it’s odd. It refers to him being an “English” former Test and county cricketer whereas I’d expect it to read he is “a former England Test and county cricketer.” I wonder if that’s deliberate. If it is, it’s really rather revealing.

      “Mike Selvey (born Michael Walter William Selvey, 25 April 1948, Chiswick, Middlesex, England)[1] is an English former Test and county cricketer, and now a cricket writer and commentator. Selvey played in three Tests for England between 1976 and 1977. His county cricket commitments included service to Surrey, Middlesex and Glamorgan.”

      Like

      • thelegglance May 20, 2015 / 7:32 pm

        One of the better putdowns I read recently was that Nasty Kevin has more Test wickets than Selvey and Agnew between them.

        Liked by 1 person

      • jomesy May 20, 2015 / 7:45 pm

        @ LGL AND TBF
        It’s a cracker and one that must make Selvey, in particular, froth. I’d committed it to memory lest I bump into him one day.

        Liked by 2 people

      • BoerInAustria May 21, 2015 / 5:48 am

        the comma is missing

        Like

  22. Ann Weatherly-Barton (@xpressanny) May 20, 2015 / 7:14 pm

    Someone is lying: Cook, Strauss or ECB or all of them. I wouldn’t trust any of them to shovel my horse manure. The constant lie upon lie upon lie, is utterly disgraceful.

    Like

    • Sherwick May 20, 2015 / 7:32 pm

      It’s all a matter of trust you see.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark May 20, 2015 / 8:48 pm

      Agnew was on the radio telling us that a phone call had been made to Yorkshire. So that means someone from the ECB rang Yorkshire, and then either they or someone at Yorkshire leaked it to the media.

      They can’t even keep private the fact a phone call had been made. New era of no leaks my Arse!

      Like

      • Pontiac May 21, 2015 / 12:11 am

        To be fair, it’s not as if it’s a big secret that they were going to see if he was interested in the job…

        Like

      • Boz May 21, 2015 / 7:05 am

        it was probably someone from the ECB asking for directions …. where is Yorkshire?

        Like

  23. waikatoguy May 20, 2015 / 11:08 pm

    Unlike most on this board I’m not really expecting the NZ juggernaught to crush England and make the ECB pay for its sins.

    After 30 years of following NZ cricket, like most kiwis, I hope for the best, but fear the worst. If they lose it wont be the first time a strong NZ side has visited England and returned with its tail between its legs.

    But good luck to the boys, and especially to Ross Taylor, a batsman who was once regarded as one of NZ’s best but now seems to be only remembered as the man who had to be sacked to get Baz in as captain. Go Roscoe!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • PepperSydney May 21, 2015 / 2:35 am

      ah.. the delightful Ross… lovely post from the lovely River Waikato. I am going for broke here, NZ to win the two matches without breaking into a sweat… .. either way, I expect damn good cricket from the NZers, And the timing is right for me, too.. I have been in training to last the distance with WI v AU ( 3rd June) , leading up to ENG v AU (July) plus the Tour ) and ENG v NZ will be a bit of a test run for me , if I can process myself on Eng time and produce high quality work on Sydney time.. in the same 24 hours.

      Like

  24. PepperSydney May 21, 2015 / 2:42 am

    If Gillespie is so brain dead as to consider this ridiculous job, it’s an indication that he has already surrendered to Justin Langer as future coach of AU cricket.. which, somehow , I doubt he would do so. Because of course, you wouldn’t get the job of coaching AU if at any time you had coached England,, right?? noooooooo.. or, as Tony Abbot would say.. Nope, nope, nope.

    What I think is happening, is.. our Jason is giving ear to all this palaver and mining it for info for Lehmann.. its so underhanded, so Australian, so efficient. it’s so RIGHT!!..

    Like

    • dvyk May 21, 2015 / 6:40 am

      I recall Duncan Fletcher writing a book after 2005 explaining his tactics against Australia, and Bucchanan made it required reading for his team. No one in the ECB complained about that, as far as I know. However a book that calls someone Ned Flanders is “incendiary” and warrants sacking, or re-sacking if the guy was already sacked at the time he wrote it.

      Like

      • Arron Wright May 21, 2015 / 7:27 am

        Earlier this week, I finally got round to listening to the Tuffers and Vaughan podcast from last Tuesday. At one point, when the subject of the bowlers’ clique was raised, someone kept saying “None of the others wrote a book criticising current players”.

        Here’s the “anti-establishment” Telegraph, long before Pietersen became a columnist, writing about an autobiography by Graeme f**king Swann that has apparently disappeared through the memory hole:

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/international/england/8846569/England-spinner-Graeme-Swanns-autobiography-runs-the-risk-of-driving-Kevin-Pietersen-nuts.html

        You’ll see that Anderson had a newspaper column saying much the same thing as Swann, and doubtless you’ll note the identity of the man most likely to get wound up by his current players, er, criticising current players.

        Like

    • Zephirine May 21, 2015 / 10:52 am

      Gillespie’s being polite, pepp. He loves the Yorkshire job, he’s said so publicly – kids are happy there etc. The new ECB chairman may be mocked right left and centre by those inside cricket down south, but he’s still a wealthy and influential Yorkshireman with close ties to the county setup there… no point in offending him.

      Like

  25. amit May 21, 2015 / 3:45 am

    I just think, we are going to see an aggressive England team today. The are going to go out to bat, score runs aggressively, not lose wickets and ensure they put the doubts back in the minds of kiwis who have not beaten them much in England.
    ..
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    and, on the other side of the world, I might wake up.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .They will do that again tomorrow. And will score 300…
    .
    ..
    .
    .

    and we will see the dawn of a new era…

    ….

    and pigs will fly…

    Like

  26. metatone May 21, 2015 / 6:41 am

    Ok, morning of the Test, time for a bit of looking ahead.
    Lots of interesting variables – hard to predict which will dominate.

    Toss could be important – judging by the humidity forecast, I could imagine a 1st session of swing, but things calming down after that.

    Will NZ bowlers be prepared enough?
    Lyth will be a handful, but if they bowl in the right areas they will give Cook trouble.

    Will England’s support seamers step up?
    Will England pick Wood?

    Will NZ batsmen recognise the value of patience?
    (Or be prepared enough for the conditions.)
    Patience gives you two things, get past the swinging new ball and get past that couple of hours where Broad actually bowls above 80 mph.

    Like

  27. Tom May 21, 2015 / 7:32 am

    Just an aside, but I’m in a state of shock. Never thought I’d see the day when a US newspaper would publish a well-written article about cricket. I don’t think this has occurred before. Living in the US means it’s quite difficult to assimilate all the information out there about the current state of English cricket, so was truly astonished by some of the numbers quoted in this NY Times article (thanks to my US girlfriend, Pam, for bringing it to my attention – yes, she reads this blog!):

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/21/sports/cricket/new-zealand-ascends-as-england-stumbles-in-cricket.html

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Arron Wright May 21, 2015 / 8:13 am

    I did like this BTL comment at the Telegraph:

    “Cooky would stare at a milk pan boiling over and blame someone else for the mess on the cooker.”

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Silk May 21, 2015 / 8:14 am

    Ed Smith says Cook is back to his best. Or somewhere near his best. I forget his exact words.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright May 21, 2015 / 8:20 am

      Best way. Glad I won’t be able to listen to much of TMS due to work. Think I’ll stick to C5 for Boycott and Vaughan. Lovejoy and FICJAM must be the worst double act since Mike and Bernie Winters; almost enough to make me beg for Jonathan Pearce and Mark Lawrenson.

      Like

      • northernlight71 May 21, 2015 / 9:13 am

        It used to be important to me to listen to the first delivery of the first test of the summer on TMS. There’s another nice little tradition ruined by the ECB and the BBC. Thanks for spoiling a perfectly good event guys.
        Now, where’s that time machine so I can go back 10 years . . . ?

        Like

  30. SimonH May 21, 2015 / 8:54 am

    Cook overtakes Illingworth and Brearley in appearances as England captain (32 to their 31 each).

    That thought makes me feel a little ill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sherwick May 21, 2015 / 8:58 am

      He’s still learning though, so give him time. Give him time..

      Liked by 1 person

    • Arron Wright May 21, 2015 / 9:21 am

      Let’s see if he can overtake Brearley’s home Ashes batting average though!

      Liked by 1 person

  31. Grumpy Gaz May 21, 2015 / 10:55 am

    Some thoughts from Sky’s intro session:

    – Gower is a bit thick or the Alzheimers is setting in. He maintains that Graves, and honourable man, denies KP’s allegations. No Gower, he did not, he denied totally different allegations. Are you really so stupid as to not understand the issue or are you just being willfully ignorant? Oh sorry, that question probably isn’t relevant.

    – Beefy, also not the sharpest tool these days, saying “Let’s all just move on and play cricket”. Sorry biggun, you seem to have utterly failed to realise that the reason England suck right now is precisely because they did not move on after the last Ashes. One of the main reasons we sucked so badly then is why we suck so badly now and he’s opening the batting.

    Ooh, 29-3 while I’ve been typing. Bye Cooky, tough luck old son. Now fuck off.

    Liked by 1 person

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